MHRA approves VMIC suites for COVID-19 vaccine manufacture

The suites, operated by Oxford Biomedica at its commercial manufacturing centre, Oxbox, in Oxford, UK and are expected to be fully operational in October

The UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved a GMP manufacturing suite housing VMIC’s vaccine manufacturing equipment - resulting in two manufacturing suites to make a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The VMIC equipment will be operating at 1000L scale and will be dedicated to the manufacture of a COVID-19 viral vector vaccine candidate.

Supported by government funding through UK Research and Innovation, the collaboration between VMIC and Oxford Biomedica enabled the UK to establish a deployment centre or ‘Virtual VMIC’ whilst the facility was being built with the aim of rapidly building capability in the UK to manufacture a vaccine for COVID-19 rather than wait until VMIC’s permanent facility opens in 2021.

The permanent VMIC facility, due to open in 2021, will be located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, UK. Its envisaged that much of the work at the facility will be collaborative ventures with organisations ranging from small and medium sized businesses, through to large multinationals and NGOs such as Wellcome and CEPI, thereby underpinning the activity and strength of the UK in the vaccine area.

Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive, The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said: “This is a milestone moment in the UK’s fight against COVID-19. These suites, which house VMIC equipment, will have the ability to make tens of millions of doses of the current leading vaccine candidate.

“The approval from the MHRA is testament to the hard work and dedication of teams across VMIC, Oxford Biomedica and all the partners working with us on this vital project.“

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said: “We need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions as quickly as possible if a breakthrough is made.

“Building up the UK’s capability to produce a COVID-19 vaccine at scale is an essential part of our pandemic response, which is why we have moved so quickly to establish a domestic manufacturing base from scratch.

“The approval of these two critical manufacturing suites will ensure we have even more capacity to protect the public as soon as a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.”

Andy Jones, Medicines Manufacturing Challenge Director at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “When we provided additional funding to both speed the building of VMIC and provide for a virtual manufacturing centre, we recognised that we needed both innovative approaches to vaccine development and the ability to deliver vaccines at speed and in volume. The approval, by the MHRA, of the manufacturing suites and VMIC equipment will ensure that a vaccine can rapidly be manufactured once an effective vaccine is approved.”

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