Combating COVID-19: UK announces USD 159 million to construct vaccine manufacturing centre

New Delhi [India], May 18 (ANI): The United Kingdom has announced an investment of USD 159.47 million (£131 million) to accelerate the construction of the new centre for vaccine development and establish a rapid deployment facility for vaccine manufacturing this summer.

The additional funding for the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) will ensure it opens in Summer 2021, a full 12 months ahead of the schedule, the UK High Commission here said in a statement.

The not-for-profit Centre is a key component of the UK's coronavirus vaccine programme, ensuring that once a vaccine is available, it can be produced quickly and in mass quantities.

"Not only will the VMIC boost the UK's long-term capacity against future viruses, but it will also accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses such as the flu virus," the statement reads.

The UK has separately announced new funding of USD 102.31 million (£84 million) for vaccines being developed by the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "As the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine, the UK is leading the global response. Once a breakthrough is made, we need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions. The new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre and temporary facility will build 'fill and finish' capacity, bringing the UK vaccine programme together from discovery to distribution."

Jan Thompson, Acting High Commissioner to India, said that this latest investment reaffirms the UK's global commitment to fight this pandemic.

"We will continue to work closely with our international partners, including here in India, to find a vaccine and ensure it is rapidly available at scale. As the Prime Minister has said, the search for a coronavirus vaccine is the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes," she said.

On June 4, the UK will host a global pledging conference for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. (ANI)