Pharmaceutical company Moderna is to set-up a manufacturing and research development centre in the UK following an agreement with the government.
The new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre will develop mRNA vaccines for respiratory diseases including Covid-19 vaccines that can protect against multiple variants. The aim for the centre is to help future-proof the UK against emerging health threats.
Moderna will also open a large-scale mRNA manufacturing centre, to increase UK patients’ access to the company’s Covid-19 vaccine and its capacity to produce jabs for other illnesses, such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Moderna aims for the centre to be able to scale up production rapidly in the event of a health emergency, significantly boosting the UK’s ability to respond to future pandemics.
Construction on the facility is expected to start sometime this year with the first mRNA vaccine to be produced in the UK in 2025.
The agreement follows the pharmaceutical company’s partnership with the government signed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Moderna has worked closely with the Vaccine Taskforce, supplying Covid-19 vaccines used in the initial rollout as well as subsequent booster campaigns.
Moderna says it plans to expand its UK presence through investments in research and development and plans to deliver a large portion of its clinical trials in the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are bringing supercharged, homegrown vaccines right to our shores. I want the UK to be the brightest and best in research and technology, creating more jobs and securing our economic future.
Our investment will guarantee jabs in arms against some of the toughest viruses out there, bringing us to the forefront of the fight against future threats. We’ve all seen what vaccines can do, and today’s partnership brings us one step closer to finding cures for some of the most devastating diseases.”
Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, added: “We are excited to be able to continue our collaboration with the UK government and Vaccine Taskforce with this new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre in the UK. The UK has established a world-class life sciences and research community.
We are committed to global public health, and as we continue to expand internationally, we are pleased to bring local mRNA manufacturing to the UK. We look forward to establishing our research and development activities and capabilities in the country.”
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) welcomed the news, with Chief Executive Richard Torbett saying: “Today’s announcement is brilliant news for the future of vaccine science, R&D and manufacturing in the UK. The pharmaceutical industry invests more than any other sector in R&D in the UK, driving the discovery of the next generation of medicines and vaccines. Our response to the Covid pandemic underlined the importance of this long-term investment to our health and economic security. The new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre provides a huge boost to how we can respond to future pandemics and to UK science and research.”