UK Government invests in CPI to develop vaccine library

When variants of COVID-19 are identified, their DNA can be used to develop mRNA vaccines in a matter of days, CPI says

CPI has received a $6.9 m (£5 m) investment to support the development of an mRNA vaccine library as part of the Government’s vaccine support package announced by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

The vaccine library will form the basis of a rapid response facility, which will enable mRNA vaccines to be developed to help protect against variants of COVID-19 as and when they emerge. It’s currently unclear how effective the existing vaccines may be against emerging variants. Research is ongoing, and although experts believe the current vaccines will combat the recently identified Kent, Brazil and South African strains of the disease, resistant variants will likely emerge in the future that require updated vaccines.

When variants of COVID-19 are identified, their DNA can be used to develop mRNA vaccines in a matter of days, CPI says. The vaccines will be banked in a library, ready for future manufacture and scale-up when needed.

CPI, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, has been working with the UK Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) since March 2020.

CEO Frank Millar said: “We’re delighted to be a key part of the UK’s ongoing fight against coronavirus, which has had such a devastating impact over the past year. It’s essential that we prepare for a future living with the threat of COVID-19 and the library of vaccine candidates we are building here in Darlington will help future-proof against further outbreaks caused by new strains of the disease. It will mean that as soon as a new strain of COVID-19 is identified, the relevant vaccine can be selected and rapidly manufactured for use in clinical trials, in a very similar way that we see flu vaccines developed each year.”

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