London, Jan 27 (PTI) A “suspicious package” which had caused a temporary manufacturing pause on Wednesday at a vaccine production facility of India-headquartered bio-pharmaceutical major Wockhardt in the UK has now been 'made safe' after an investigation by the local police.
The factory, located at Wrexham Industrial Estate in North Wales, operates a fill-finish production line for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 after an agreement was struck in August last year. Local reports suggested that a bomb disposal unit had also been deployed as part of the investigations at the unit.
“We can confirm that the investigation on the suspicious package received today has been concluded. Given that staff safety is our main priority manufacturing was temporarily paused whilst this took place safely,” a Wockhardt UK statement said.
“We can now confirm that the package was made safe and staff are now being allowed back into the facility. This temporary suspension of manufacturing has in no way affected our production schedule and we are grateful to the authorities and experts for their swift response and resolution of the incident,” the statement said.
Earlier, the company had partially evacuated the site after it received the suspicious package at its site on Wednesday morning and informed all relevant authorities immediately.
The local North Wales Police force said officers rushed to the Wrexham Industrial Estate to deal with the incident and that there are no reports of any injuries.
'We are currently dealing with an ongoing incident on the Wrexham Industrial Estate. The roads are currently closed and we would ask the public to avoid the area until further notice,' a police statement said.
The Wrexham plant has the capability to produce around 300 million doses of the vaccine a year. The Welsh government stressed that there had been 'no adverse effects' on the coronavirus vaccine roll-out as a result of the security alert.
The UK government has reserved one fill-finish production line at Wockhardt UK for its exclusive use for 18 months in order to guarantee the supply of vaccines required to fight against Covid-19, the company had confirmed during a visit by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the Welsh facility last November.
“Our agreement with Wockhardt is a significant milestone for the British life science industry and will help produce the vaccines this country needs,' Johnson had said at the time.
In the UK, Wockhardt claims to be one of the largest suppliers into the National Health Service (NHS) and has had a presence for over 20 years at Wrexham, where it employs over 400 people at its 612,000 square feet hi-tech manufacturing facility.
“Our sophisticated sterile facility and highly skilled workforce are a prime example of why the manufacturing sector is a major employer accounting for around 9 per cent of the UK workforce,” said Ravi Limaye, Managing Director of Wockhardt UK, during the prime ministerial visit last year.
The company's 'world-class' manufacturing site at Wrexham manufactures a number of sterile injectable products covering a wide range of therapy areas including diabetes, anticoagulation and pain management. The products are available in many forms such as vials, cartridges and ampoules including lyophilised (dry powder) products.
In addition to their own Wockhardt branded products, the firm also provides contract manufacturing services for companies around the world. PTI AK SCY SCY