Given the numerous external threatsto UK’s COVID vaccine supply, the government has shifted their focus to increasing their domestic production. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government’s new endeavour with pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which will bring around 60 million Novavax jabs to the country.
More on Novavax
Novavax is a biotechnology company based in the United States, and they started working on their COVID vaccine in January 2020. Earlier this year, they revealed that their jab was 96% effective against the original strain, and 86% effective against the British variant. The results were determined after the third phase of the UK’s clinical trial, which involved more than 15,000 participants. The vaccine is still waiting for the green light from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), but production has already begun at a Fujifilm facility, in Stockton-on-Tees. GSK will then bottle the doses at their own facility, in Barnard Castle.
President of GSK vaccines, Roger Connor stated:
GSK is delighted to support Novavax and the UK Vaccines Taskforce with this manufacturing arrangement for the UK and our Barnard Castle facility is now undertaking the rapid preparation work required to manufacture up to 60 million doses of this vaccine.
UK’s vaccination program
If the Novavax vaccine is given the thumbs up from the MHRA, the jabs could be integrated into the vaccination program as early as June, and this could mean that the delays from other countries, like India, would no longer be a substantial threat to Johnson’s vaccination plan. During his speech, Johnson emphasized that they are still on track with the program, and this partnership has only strengthened their mission to manufacture UK-based vaccines. He said:
I'm delighted by GSK's investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout.
We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over 50s by 15 April, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you're called.