The UK government on Monday said that its new manufacturing pact with the Mumbai-based global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Wockhardt will guarantee the supply of millions more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine whenever it is ready.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed it has entered into an 18-month agreement with the company to carry out the crucial "fill and finish" stage of the manufacturing process, which involves dispensing the manufactured vaccine substance into vials ready for it to be distributed.
Described as an essential part of the vaccines supply chain, the deal means Wockhardt will provide these services for the UK government and producers of vaccines being developed around the world in large quantities.
"Ensuring the UK has the capability to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine is critical in our fight against coronavirus," said UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
"Today we have secured additional capacity to manufacture millions of doses of multiple COVID-19 candidates, guaranteeing the supply of vaccines we need to protect people across the UK rapidly and in large numbers," he said.
The fill and finish line is expected to start in September and will take place at CP Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Wockhardt, based in Wrexham, North Wales, which has the capacity to finish millions of coronavirus vaccine doses.
"The pandemic of COVID-19 is a challenge for all and needs a concerted effort to overcome," said Dr Habil Khorakiwala, the Founder Chairman of Wockhardt.
"We are proud to be collaborating with the UK government to make vaccines available and the arrangement brings in a huge sense of purpose and pride, it upholds our ongoing commitment to fight against such a pandemic of global human importance. As a global organisation, we are focused and committed to assist in mitigating the worldwide impact of COVID-19," he said.
In the UK, Wockhardt is one of the largest suppliers into the National Health Service (NHS) for over 20 years and has had a presence in Wrexham for over two decades, where it employs over 400 people at a 612,000 square feet high-tech manufacturing facility.
"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," UK Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said.
"Securing this manufacturing capacity means that safe and effective vaccines, produced in Wales, will potentially be distributed rapidly to people across the UK," Hart said.
The news follows the UK government securing early access to millions of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca for the under-trial University of Oxford vaccine, BioNTech/Pfizer alliance, Valneva and GSK/Sanofi as part of its strategy to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines against COVID-19.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)