Global pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm Wockhardt has announced that it has entered an agreement with the UK government for the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, which will be undertaken at CP Pharmaceuticals a subsidiary of Wockhardt based in Wrexham, North Wales.

According to a UK Gov press release, the company has entered an 18-month contract to perform the vital ‘fill and finish’ stage of manufacturing, which involves the dispensing of the vaccine into vials ready for distribution.

The terms of the agreement state that the company must reserve production capacity to allow for the supply of multiple vaccines to the UK government, including AZD1222, the vaccine that was developed by the University of Oxford and it’s spin-out company Vaccitech and licensed by AstraZeneca.

Dr Habil Khorakiwala, Founder Chairman of Wockhardt emphasised that finding solutions for the pandemic is a challenge for everyone, and the partnership shows the firms commitment to helping fight the coronavirus.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today we have secured additional capacity to manufacture millions of doses of multiple Covid-19 candidates, guaranteeing the supply of vaccines we need to protect people across the UK rapidly and in large numbers.” 

Speaking about the contract Ravi Limaye, Managing Director Wockhardt UK said the company was proud to have been the selected partner on the project and to be taking a lead role in the UK’s fight against the pandemic. He added that it is hoped the first doses will be delivered later this year.

Dr Murtaza Khorakiwala, Managing Director and Global CEO of Wockhardt told how the partnership with the UK government showcases Wockhardt’s 40 years of expertise and experience, and its global strength in world-class injectable facilities.

Kate Bingham, Chair of the Vaccines Taskforce said how unprecedented it was to have the need to develop and manufacture a vaccine on such a scale, and in such a short timeframe. She added that the government has now added a fourth vaccine candidate to their portfolio, this one from GSK and Sanofi, but now the main task is the need to get vaccines manufactured.

“Fill Finish is a critical step in the process to get the vaccine in a form to be given to patients. The agreement with Wockhardt will boost our capability to ensure that from the moment a successful vaccine is identified we will be able to produce the quantities of vaccine required, as quickly as possible, for the people who need it,” she said.

The agreement with the pharmaceutical firm accompanies the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire as a result of £93 million government investment.

The UK’s vaccine manufacturing efforts have been further supported by an extra £100 million for a state-of-the-art Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree, Essex, to accelerate the mass production of a successful COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.

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