Laboratories to check present and new COVID-19 vaccines towards variants of concern are to be constructed at Porton Down, the federal government has introduced.
A complete of £29.3 million will go in the direction of constructing the “state-of-the-art” laboratories at Public Well being England’s new testing services on the Ministry of Defence’s top-secret complicated in Wiltshire.
Scientists will be capable to take a look at 3,000 blood samples per week – greater than 4 occasions the present quantity – for the degrees of COVID-19 antibodies generated by vaccines to allow them to assess their effectiveness towards variants of concern.
Rising the variety of checks will enable vaccines designed to “fight particular mutations of COVID-19” to be developed rapidly, the Division of Well being and Social Care stated.
There are fears about vaccines not being efficient towards variants that may be extra transmissible and extra lethal.
Because the pandemic began in March 2020, the virus that causes COVID-19 has managed to rapidly develop a number of mutations which have involved scientists, together with the Kent, South African, Indian, and Brazil variants.
Anthony Harnden, deputy chief of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the federal government, warned in March booster vaccines to struggle future variants could also be wanted as early as this autumn.
Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated: “The UK has confirmed itself to be a world-class power within the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax and Valneva vaccines all researched, developed or manufactured on British soil.
“We have backed UK science from the very begin of this pandemic and this multi-million pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will allow us to additional future-proof the nation from the specter of new variants.
“We’re dedicated to supporting the UK’s flourishing life sciences trade and this announcement is yet one more important approach we are going to construct again higher to guard the nation over the approaching months and years.”
The brand new laboratories will probably be along with services at Porton Down accepted in September that can greater than double the present medical testing of vaccines from 700 variant samples per week to 1,500 by January 2022 at a value of £19.7 million.
A date for when the brand new laboratories needs to be completed by has not been launched by the federal government.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief govt of the newly fashioned UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA), stated a brand new variant that may escape the present vaccines is “the best threat of a 3rd wave” and the brand new funding will “assist us keep one step forward of the virus”.