UK government invests £5m into Covid-19 variant vaccines

Budget Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £5 million investment in CPI to develop an mRNA ‘vaccine library’, as part of the government’s vaccines support package.

The vaccine library will form the basis of a rapid response facility, enabling mRNA vaccines to be developed to help protect against new variants of Covid-19 as and when they emerge.

The novelty of the Covid-19 virus means vaccines have been developed at-speed over the past year, and it is unclear how effective they may be against new variants. Research into effectiveness is continuous, and while the current vaccine will likely combat the recently identified Kent, Brazil and South African variant strains, new variants will likely continue to emerge in future that resistant, meaning new vaccines will be needed.

The ‘vaccine library’ will be established by cataloguing new variants of Covid-19 as they are identified. DNA can be used to develop mRNA vaccines in a matter of days, and readied for future manufacture and scale-up as needed.

CPI CEO Frank Miller said: “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.”

CPI has been working alongside the UK Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) since March 2020, using its expertise in the development of mRNA vaccines to support the fight against Covid-19.

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