60m doses would be produced by Billingham-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies if the Novavax vaccine proves safe in clinical trials.
Millions of doses of a potential covid-19 vaccine could be produced on Teesside in the coming months.
The major announcement comes after months of discussions with Billingham-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and Government ministers, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said.
American-based Novavax is currently in a Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine, working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to access their clinical network and expertise.
The Government has reached an agreement with Novavax that will see 60 million doses made in Billingham if clinical trials prove successful – the only manufacturing site of the vaccine across the whole of the UK.
Once manufactured, the vaccine can be supplied to the British public as soon as possible.
The Government has reached an in-principle agreement to secure 30 million doses of another vaccine, the Janssen vaccine, and to co-fund a ground-breaking global clinical study.
If they are safe and successful in clinical trials, both coronavirus vaccines could be delivered to the UK in mid-2021.
They would be given first to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with serious diseases, and the elderly.
This follows the recent announcement that Fujifilm are building a new BioCampus at its Billingham site, which Mr Houchen supported with nearly £4m.
It will include new, purpose-built 42,000 sq ft of office accommodation and a visitor centre, which is expected to include additional research and development laboratories and new manufacturing facilities, which would be used to manufacture the vaccine.
Mr Houchen said:
“It has been fantastic to work with Fujifilm to ensure the government has reached this agreement with them.
“They are doing fantastic work in our hugely important bioscience sector, creating the skilled jobs we need and leading the way on innovation, and there’s no bigger project across the world right now than creating and manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine.
“This will be the only place in the whole country where this vaccine will be manufactured, and it will be done in Teesside. It is a fantastic coup for our area and shows once again the potential and the talent we have in the region.
“Once again Teesside is leading the way and putting itself on the world stage for the fantastic work we do in our region.
“This is a significant announcement that everyone in Teesside should be proud of as we are at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to get life back to normal and protect us all from the coronavirus.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“The Government’s strategy to build a portfolio of promising vaccine candidates will ensure we have the best chance possible of finding one that works.
“While we are doing everything we can to ensure the British people get access to a successful vaccine as soon as possible, nobody is safe until we are all safe so global co-operation is absolutely critical if we are to defeat this virus once and for all.”
Stanley C. Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax, said trials had already demonstrated the Novavax vaccines triggers a robust antibody response, greater than those seen in patients who have recovered from covid-19.
“We are delighted to expand our collaboration with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies in the UK.”
The UK has now secured access to six different vaccine candidates as part of the government’s strategy to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines, as soon as they are found to be safe and effective.
There are four different types of potential vaccine, which work in different ways.
Rights have also been secured to AstraZeneca’s antibody treatment to neutralise the virus, which can be used both as a short term measure for those who cannot receive vaccines and front line workers exposed to the virus, as well as a treatment for infected patients in hospitals.
The Government aims to get 500,000 people signed up to take part in clinical trials by the end of October, providing scientists and regulators the assurances they need that vaccines secured are safe and effective for use.
By Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies