Business Secretary backs research
Valneva hires 75 scientists at Livingston for Covid vaccine
Alok Sharma: visiting the Livingston plant
A laboratory in Livingston will create a further 75 jobs for scientists producing a new coronavirus vaccine.
It follows a multi-million-pound joint investment by the UK government and French company Valneva.
They will each invest £14 million in the plant to produce 60 million doses of the vaccine.
Currently more than 100 people are employed at the company’s West Lothian facility with a quarter of those working directly on a coronavirus treatment.
If Valneva’s vaccine is proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the expanded Livingston facility could potentially supply up to 100 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally.
The committed investment will be highlighted by UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma on a visit to Valneva’s facility in West Lothian today, ensuring the vaccine can be manufactured at scale to protect millions of people in priority groups, such as health and social care workers and those at increased health risk, across the UK if clinical trials are successful.
The Business Secretary will see first-hand the ground-breaking work already taking place at the Livingston manufacturing facility and hear about the significant efforts being made to increase capacity at the site.
Ahead of his visit, Mr Sharma said: “I’m incredibly grateful to our highly-skilled scientists and technicians in Livingston who are supporting the global effort to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.
I’m particularly pleased that Scotland’s world class research sector is playing such an important role in developing a much-needed vaccine– Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary
“The multi-million-pound up-front investment we have agreed with Valneva today means that their vaccine can be manufactured in quantity right here in Scotland.
“If clinical trials are successful, millions of people in priority groups across the UK will be protected by their life-saving vaccine.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We are doing everything possible to keep people in all parts of the UK safe as we tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“The UK government is purchasing millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine for distribution across all parts of the UK. A safe and effective vaccine is vital to the long-term protection against the virus we need.
“I’m particularly pleased that Scotland’s world class research sector is playing such an important role in developing a much-needed vaccine.
Chairman of the Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham said: “The visit of the Secretary of State to Valneva’s Livingston facility today and the announcement of investment in their manufacturing capability underlines the importance of our ability to make a vaccine for COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
“In order to vaccinate our high-risk populations at the earliest opportunity, the government has agreed to proactively manufacture vaccines now, so we have millions of doses of vaccine ready if they are shown to be safe and effective.
“This important investment in Valneva’s Scottish manufacturing plant will not only help us with this, but also ensures we are well-placed as a country to be able to cope with any pandemics or health crises in the future.
Chief Financial Officer of Valneva David Lawrence described the Secretary of State’s visit to the site as a “real sign of the government’s commitment”.
He said: “We are working as hard and as fast as possible to develop the vaccine to meet the UK’s needs and indeed to try to address the broader need for a vaccine. We look forward to completing the final supply agreement in the next few weeks.”
The Livingston facility is in addition to the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire thanks to further investment from the UK government. When completed in summer 2021, the facility will have flexible capacity to manufacture millions of vaccine doses at scale.
The UK government has also reached an existing global licensing agreement signed with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for the British public, as well as a partnership with BioNTech and Pfizer for 30 million doses if their trials are successful.
Last week a deal was reached with GSK and Sanofi to secure 60 million doses of their vaccine candidate, further boosting the UK’s chances of receiving access to an effective immunisation.
A further £40 million government investment has been given to Imperial College London to develop their vaccine candidate, which is now being trialled with more than 200 people across 6 locations.