A deal has been struck to produce vaccines in the UK in the event of a future flu pandemic.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has agreed an advance purchase agreement (APA) with healthcare company CSL Seqirus for it to produce more than 100 million vaccines in the event a flu pandemic is declared.
The UKHSA said this is the first time the manufacturing process would be based entirely in the UK, ensuring access to vaccines if the global demand outweighs supply.
In December 2020, UK grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab thanks to agreements made on procuring coronavirus vaccines.
The new vaccines would be developed and tested to match the pandemic flu strain circulating at the time, with the jabs made at CSL Seqirus’s existing manufacturing plant in Liverpool.
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, said: “We have seen from past pandemic events, including Covid-19, that access to effective vaccines is vital to help save lives and minimise disruption to our lives and livelihoods.
“This agreement represents a major step forward in our preparedness against future influenza pandemics.
“Manufacturing these potentially life-saving vaccines inside the UK gives us speedier and more secure access, enabling us to roll them out to those who need them more quickly.”
Vaccines minister Maria Caulfield said: “This deal with CSL Seqirus places us on the front foot if we are faced with an influenza pandemic in the future.
“It will ensure vaccines are manufactured in the UK – enabling us to get jabs into arms fast regardless of global demand and save thousands of lives.”
Marc Lacey, global executive director at CSL Seqirus, said: “CSL Seqirus is a global leader in pandemic influenza preparedness, and we’re pleased the UK Government will continue to partner with us in preparing to provide protection against the potential of a flu pandemic.”