UK Prime Minister visits the UK Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the construction site of the VMIC and met scientists and engineers at the forefront of the UK’s COVID-19 response.

Vials labelled 'VACCINE COVID-19'

On Friday 18 September, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the construction site of the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

VMIC, a new not-for-profit research organisation, is being established to provide strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability that will promote, develop and accelerate the growth of the UK vaccine industry. The organisation will also serve as a national emergency response capability for the UK in future pandemics.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Meets Scientists at the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre [Credit: UK VMIC].

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Meets Scientists at the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre [Credit: UK VMIC].

As part of the visit, the Prime Minister met scientists and engineers working in a range of roles in the national pandemic response: including those advising the scaling up of COVID-19 vaccine candidate manufacturing; and establishing a rapid deployment centre, known as ‘Virtual VMIC’, to increase the supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which is currently in clinical trials. Johnson also met with the design and construction teams fast tracking the development of the 7,400m2 state-of-the-art vaccine development and manufacturing facility.

He commented: “Brilliant scientists in Oxfordshire and around the UK are driving global efforts to develop a safe vaccine that works to defeat coronavirus. If one proves successful, we need to be ready to distribute it to the British people as soon as possible.

“That is why construction of the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at Harwell, backed by £158 million from the Government, is fully underway… When open, VMIC will be able to manufacture enough vaccine doses for the whole UK population in as little as six months, which would transform how we beat this virus and prepare for future pandemics.”

Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive Officer, VMIC said: “Today’s visit from the Prime Minister is testament to the incredible work being carried out by an exceptional team at VMIC and amongst our partners. Their work forms a vitally important part of the national response to COVID-19 as well as fast tracking the facility to bring it online in 2021. Once complete, the centre will be equipped to provide future pandemic response for the whole of the UK.  

“The Government has demonstrated it is wholeheartedly committed to increasing the country’s vaccines infrastructure in order to strengthen the UK’s ability to not only provide a pandemic response capability, but also to discover and manufacture vaccines for a whole range of conditions. We look forward to being able to deliver on this as part of our day to day work, for the benefit of the UK and overseas.”

VMIC was established by the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (all UK) with support from industrial partners, MSD, Johnson & Johnson and Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare.