COVID-19: Britons to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens
US pharmaceutical firm Moderna is to establish a global clinical trials base in the UK, which it says will endorse the country as a science superpower - and future-proof it against emerging health threats.
Wednesday 22 June 2022 09:18, UK
Britons will have access to all the latest vaccines and treatments when a new research and manufacturing centre opens in the UK.
American pharmaceutical giant Moderna is opening a new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre that will develop vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including COVID vaccines that can protect against multiple variants.
Construction is expected to start as early as this year, with the first mRNA vaccine due to be produced in the UK in 2025.
Full details of the venture including where it will be, are not yet available and have been described as "commercially sensitive".
But 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.
It is hoped the technology will go on to be used to tackle a wide range of other diseases including cancer, dementia, flu and heart disease.
Ministers said a new strategic partnership with the firm will help "future proof" the UK against future health threats.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We are bringing supercharged home-grown vaccines right to our shores.
"I want the UK to be the brightest and best in research and technology, creating more jobs and securing our economic future.
"Our investment will guarantee jabs in arms against some of the toughest viruses out there, bringing us to the forefront of the fight against future threats.
"We've all seen what vaccines can do, and today's partnership brings us one step closer to finding cures for some of the most devastating diseases."
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the partnership with Moderna would "cement the UK's status as a science superpower" and boost the economy by creating jobs
He said it could also help "unlock the next generation of cutting-edge vaccines".
"mRNA is a truly transformational technology and we have seen its life-saving power during the pandemic," he said.
Moderna's chief executive Stephane Bancel, said the firm was "excited" to collaborate with the UK.
And the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance labelled the announcement "great news for the UK's R&D activities and future capabilities".
He added: "Rapid cutting-edge vaccines were vital in the response to the COVID pandemic.
"Developing the next generation of mRNA vaccines will be crucial in boosting our ability to prevent and respond to a wide range of respiratory diseases in the future."