Construction work on the highly specialist facility that will house the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) is being fast tracked at Harwell. VMIC is a not for profit organisation and will provide the UK’s first bespoke strategic vaccine development and manufacturing capability.
A rapidly accelerated programme aims to see the 7,000m2 facility operational in 2021, a year earlier than planned in order to provide an emergency response capability for the UK. The programme is the result of tight collaboration between VMIC, Harwell Campus, Vale of White Horse District Council, UK Research and Innovation, and the main contractor Glencar Construction.
Dr Matthew Duchars, VMIC’s chief executive, said:
“Whilst no-one could have predicted the Covid-19 outbreak, we are doing all we can to fast-track the build so VMIC is set up to offer long-term support to the UK’s future vaccines needs, whilst simultaneously contributing right now to the vital work that will help us emerge from this pandemic.
“As well as working with the Harwell team and contractors to deliver the build rapidly ahead of schedule, VMIC scientists and engineers are working round the clock as part of the UK Bioindustry Association Covid-19 Taskforce, and alongside Oxford University advising on manufacturing options of the vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which has recently opened for trial.”
The new centre will occupy a prominent location on the 700-acre Harwell Campus. The building itself is complex and in order to meet the compressed timetable, some innovative approaches involving off-site manufacture will be employed.
Harwell Campus director Angus Horner said:
“Early delivery of VMIC will give the UK sovereign resilience and also a new base from where we can support other countries, in the global battle against Covid-19, plus prepare to meet future threats.”