Covid jab plant gets boost for £ 400million expansion Business

A plant in the North East that makes coronavirus vaccines is set to expand by £ 400million.

The Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside, produces jabs for the US company Novavax and employs around 890 people.

Its workforce will now reach more than 1,200 under plans defined by its Japanese owner, creating one of the largest pharmaceutical centers in the United Kingdom.

The move gives a boost to Boris Johnson’s upgrading program, bringing investment in one of the country’s most disadvantaged areas, the Prime Minister hailing Wednesday the “significant” expansion.

“I am delighted that Fujifilm has identified the enormous potential for growth and innovation in the UK,” he said.

“At £ 400million, this is a significant investment in UK biopharmaceutical manufacturing and it will fuel our response to some of today’s most pressing global health challenges and deliver medicines and vaccines that change the lives of patients in need. “

The expansion of the Billingham site is expected to create around 350 new jobs, Fujifilm said, with the creation of two facilities.

One will focus on making cell cultures, which are needed for new drugs that use antibodies, while the other will be used to make viral gene therapies, drugs that use modified viruses to treat diseases.

The upgrade represents a significant extension of the site’s existing capabilities, Fujifilm said.

For example, this will triple the amount of cell cultures Billingham can produce.

It will also add the ability to produce messenger RNA, the key molecule behind the breakthrough Covid vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Martin Meeson, Managing Director of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said: “There has never been a more important time to invest in biopharmaceuticals and £ 400million, the biggest investment in UK biopharmaceutical manufacturing in decades , signal our intention… to help meet public health demands, and deliver the drugs and vaccines of tomorrow.

“With a strong growing demand for microbial, cell culture and viral gene therapy services, we are adding capacity and the latest technology within a campus. “

The company plans to complete the expansion by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

He first signed a deal to produce jabs for Novavax in August 2020 when the UK government placed an order for 60 million doses. Its vaccine is not yet approved for use in Britain.

Novavax submitted data to the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency last month and is now awaiting a decision.

Glaxosmithkline is also involved in production, with its Barnard Castle site used to prepare and package vaccine vials.

It was previously feared that delays in approving the Novavax jab could put jobs at the Fujifilm plant in Billingham at risk, but the company’s announcements will allay those fears.

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This notice was published: 2021-12-02 06:00:00

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