A vast majority of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines used in the UK are produced in Britain, but supplies for jabs come from the EU and India as well as other places. As the EU threatens a block on vaccine exports, and deliveries of AstraZeneca supplies from India are delayed, ministers have begun to draw up plans to make Britain’s jab manufacturing more self-reliant.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is understood to have held talks with Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, about how to accelerate production.
Whitehall insiders have also said work is ongoing to bring as much production of vaccines onshore as possible to counter issues with overseas supply.
A Number 10 source told The Sunday Telegraph there “is a lot of domestic production already” in the UK, adding: “We are always looking at ways we can increase vaccine production in the UK.
“The Government is looking at ways vaccine supplies can be increased all the time.”
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Yesterday, the Government announced an extra £47.6 million for the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC).
A press release said the funding was to “expand the capacity twenty-fold so that the UK has a highly specialist manufacturing centre that, in a pandemic situation, can make up to 70 million doses within a 6 month period”.
A new VMCI facility is set to open in Oxfordshire in October this year.
Other plants are planned for Livingston in Scotland to produce the Valneva vaccine and in Darlington, where a Centre for Process Innovation will be built.
Around 26,853,407 people have received their first coronavirus jab in the UK.
Yesterday saw another 5,587 cases and 96 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has seen 4,291,271 cases and 126,122 deaths.