A new Government partnership with vaccine manufacturer Moderna will bring over a billion pounds in investment in mRNA research to the UK, the Health Secretary has said.
The US pharmaceutical giant announced on Wednesday plans to open a new research and manufacturing centre in the UK.
The new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre will develop vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including Covid vaccines that can protect against multiple variants.
Meanwhile, a large-scale mRNA vaccine manufacturing centre will produce new and current medicines while creating new jobs, officials said.
Speaking to the PA news agency during a visit to St George’s Hospital, Mr Javid said mRNA technology had been “transformational” during the pandemic.
“And that’s why I’m thrilled to announce this new partnership between the UK Government and Moderna, where Moderna will be established here in the UK, a global R and D facility with over a billion pounds for investment in this cutting-edge technology, and also a huge manufacturing centre, their largest outside of the US, and so this is a great investment in the UK, and gives huge confidence to our life sciences sector already leading in Europe,” he said.
“But most of all, what this means for me is, for NHS patients, it means that we will have guaranteed access here in the UK, to these cutting edge vaccines and treatments.
“And that’s not just for Covid or flu, but also for some of the biggest killers out there and our biggest health problems, cancer, dementia and heart disease.”
Construction is expected to start as early as this year, with the first mRNA vaccine due to be produced in the UK in 2025.
Government officials said the deal will see NHS patients get access to “cutting edge” vaccines while being able to enrol in clinical trials for vaccines developed by the firm.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine used messenger RNA (mRNA), these vaccines teach the body’s cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response.
Ministers said a new strategic partnership with the firm will help “future proof” the UK against future health threats.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the announcement is “great news for the UK’s R&D activities and future capabilities”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plan would bring “supercharged home-grown vaccines right to our shores.”