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Deal struck to produce vaccines in UK for any future flu pandemic

The jabs would be made at CSL Seqirus’s manufacturing plant in Liverpool.

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A flu vaccine

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 with healthcare company CSL Seqirus for it to produce more than 100 million vaccines if or when a flu pandemic is declared.

The firm is already one of the world’s biggest flu vaccine manufacturers but the deal would supply the volume of doses needed during a pandemic.

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.

Jenny Harries
Professor Dame Jenny Harries from the UKHSA said ‘access to effective vaccines is vital’ (PA)

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.”

Maria Caulfield
Vaccines minister Maria Caulfield said the deal will make sure vaccines can be administered quickly regardless of global demand (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

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.”

Meanwhile, the UKHSA announced that it was launching a new infectious disease dashboard which will highlight rates of flu, Covid and other infectious diseases in England.

The data will be updated weekly.

It comes as the UKHSA warned of a drop in vaccination rates for young children.

Data shows a small drop in coverage at 12 months for the six-in-one vaccine, rotavirus and meningitis B second dose, with drops also recorded as children got older.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant medical epidemiologist at the UKHSA, said: “The continuing downward trend for the uptake of routine childhood vaccinations is a serious concern.

“The diseases that these vaccines protect against, such as measles, polio and meningitis, can be life-changing and even deadly.

“No parent wants this for their child, especially when these diseases are easily preventable.

“Please don’t put this off, check now that your children are fully up to date with all their vaccines due. Check your child’s red book and get in touch with your GP surgery if you are not sure.”

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