Wrexham factory to produce millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

Up to a hundred million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses will be produced for use in the UK at a Welsh facility in the coming months.

Now that the UK”s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has authorised the vaccine, WalesOnline reports the production line at the CP Pharmaceuticals factory in Wrexham will go into action.

The unassuming warehouse on the town’s industrial estate could provide “salvation for humanity”, according to Boris Johnson when he visited the site back in November.

The plant is able to produce around three hundred million doses of the vaccine each year, and has been producing one hundred and fifty thousand phials a day for months in readiness to roll out the vaccine across the UK.

The CP Pharmaceuticals lab will carry out the “fill and finish” stage of the manufacturing process. This involves dispensing the vaccine into vials ready for it to be sent out across the country.

The eighteen month agreement with parent company Wockhardt was announced back in August. Wockhardt is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of medicines such as insulin, diamorphine and heparins to the NHS.

Speaking then, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said “This agreement demonstrates the importance of Welsh manufacturers in the UK’s fight against coronavirus, highlighting once again the strengths of working together across the UK to combat the pandemic.

“Securing this manufacturing capacity means that safe and effective vaccines, produced in Wales, will potentially be distributed rapidly to people across the UK.”

Global pharmaceutical company Wockhardt is one of the largest suppliers to the NHS, and has had a site in Wrexham for more than twenty years.

It employs over four hundred people at the 612,000 sq ft high tech factory.

Kate Bingham, chair of the Vaccines Taskforce, said in August “Never before have we needed to find and manufacture a vaccine at this speed and scale in order to protect the UK population.

“We have made significant progress in securing a diverse portfolio of potential vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, adding a fourth vaccine candidate from GSK and Sanofi earlier this week. However, discovering a successful vaccine is only part of the solution, we also need to be able to manufacture it.

“Fill and 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.”

Unlike the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which must be stored at -70°C, the new vaccine can be stored in a fridge, so it can be easily rolled out to care homes and GP surgeries.

Enough doses have been ordered to vaccinate the entire population.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced “Over 25,000 vaccines have already been administered in Wales and this second vaccine will start to be rolled out here in the New Year.”

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