Coronavirus vaccine could be produced here in the North East within months
Following lengthy discussions with Billingham-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and government ministers, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has announced that up to 60 million doses will be made at the plant if ongoing clinical trials are successful.
The vaccines would then be expected to be distributed in the middle of next year and given first to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with serious diseases and the elderly.
The Tees Valley Mayor’s office has recently supported Fujifilm’s work by contributing £4million towards the cost of a new BioCampus at its Billingham site.
This is expected to include additional research and development laboratories and new manufacturing facilities to produce the vaccine.
Mayor Houchen said: “It has been fantastic to work with Fujifilm to ensure the government has reached this agreement with them.
"They are doing fantastic work in our hugely important bioscience sector, creating the skilled jobs we need and leading the way on innovation, and there’s no bigger project across the world right now than creating and manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine.
“This will be the only place in the whole country where this vaccine will be manufactured, and it will be done in Teesside.
"It is a fantastic coup for our area and shows once again the potential and the talent we have in the region.
“We’ve heard a lot of stories about local businesses and research organisations across the region working hard to support the national effort on coronavirus, and this is the most significant step yet.
“Once again Teesside is leading the way and putting itself on the world stage for the fantastic work we do in our region.
"This is a significant announcement that everyone in Teesside should be proud of as we are at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to get life back to normal and protect us all from the coronavirus.”
Fujifilm supports its partners in the biopharmaceutical industry with the development and production of their biologics, vaccines and gene therapies.