UK signs deal with GlaxoSmithKline to ‘fill and finish’ 60million doses of Novavax’s Covid vaccine

Boris Johnson tonight revealed GlaxoSmithKline will support the manufacturing of up to 60million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine in the UK.

The UK vaccines taskforce has signed a deal with GSK to ‘fill and finish’ supplies of the American jab at its factory in Durham starting from May.

Mr Johnson said the move will ‘further boost our vaccine rollout’, which will slow down next month due to a a shortfall of five million AstraZeneca jabs from India.

The ‘fill and finish’ is the completion stage of vaccine manufacturing, preparing vials of the final vaccine and packaging them for distribution and use. 

Britain has secured 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm. 

Earlier this month Novavax announced its jab is 86 per cent effective against the Kent variant and 96 per cent against the original Covid.

According to results of phase three trial in the UK, the jab offers 100 per cent protection against severe disease, including all hospital admission and death.

Novavax is due to submit its late stage trial data to Britain’s medical regulator in the coming weeks and approval is expected in May. 

The Prime Minister told tonight’s Downing Street press conference: ‘I’m delighted by GSK’s investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout.

‘The vaccines taskforce has worked hand in glove with business to successfully deliver vaccines to the whole of the UK and this agreement will continue to support our approach.

‘We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over-50s by April 15, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you’re called.’

Boris Johnson tonight revealed the British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline will support the manufacturing of up to 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine in the UK

Boris Johnson tonight revealed the British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline will support the manufacturing of up to 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine in the UK

Boris Johnson tonight revealed the British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline will support the manufacturing of up to 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine in the UK

Britain has secured 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm

Britain has secured 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm

Britain has secured 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm 

The GSK site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in GSK's global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products

The GSK site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in GSK's global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products

The GSK site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in GSK’s global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products

Officials believe the Novavax vaccine could become the fifth approved Covid jab in the UK, after Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna’s.

A vaccine made by Johnson and Johnson is currently being assessed by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and a decision is expected in the coming weeks. 

The Novavax jab differs from those already being used in the UK. It combines a genetically engineered protein that causes a weakened version of Covid with a plant-based ingredient to help generate a stronger immune response.

People will be given two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart. The vaccine, officially named NVX-CoV2373, can be stored in a regular medical fridge.

The GSK site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in GSK’s global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products.

The protein antigen component of NVX-CoV2373 is also produced in the North East of England by Novavax’s manufacturing partner, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, at their site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

Roger Connor, president of GSK vaccines, said: ‘GSK is delighted to support Novavax and the UK vaccines taskforce with this manufacturing arrangement for the UK and our Barnard Castle facility is now undertaking the rapid preparation work required to manufacture up to 60 million doses of this vaccine.

‘We have ensured that we can deliver these volumes without impacting supply of our other vital medicines and vaccines, and without disruption to the other Covid-19 collaborations GSK is engaged in globally.’

Novavax coronavirus vaccine – everything you need to know 

The Government has agreed a deal with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on the manufacture of up to 60 million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine.

Here is what we know:

– How does the vaccine work?

The Novavax vaccine works like other vaccines by teaching the immune system to make antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein.

Researchers inserted a modified gene into a virus, called a baculovirus, and allowed it to infect insect cells.

Spike proteins from these cells were then assembled into nanoparticles which, while they look like coronavirus, cannot replicate or cause Covid-19.

These nanoparticles are then injected into the body via the vaccine where the immune system mounts an antibody response.

If the body encounters coronavirus in the future, the body is primed to fend it off.

The vaccine is given as two doses.

– Are there advantages of the Novavax vaccine?

Yes. While the jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna need to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, the Novavax jab is stable for up to three months in a normal fridge.

– How effective is the vaccine?

According to results of a phase three trial in the UK, announced in March, the jab offers 100 per cent protection against severe disease, including all hospital admission and death.

It is 86 per cent effective against the Kent variant, the company behind it said, and it is also 96 per cent effective in preventing cases caused by the original strain of the coronavirus.

The study in the UK enrolled more than 15,000 participants aged between 18 and 84, including 27 per cent over the age of 65.

In participants 65 years of age and older, 10 cases of Covid-19 were observed, with 90 per cent of those cases occurring in the placebo group.

– Where is it made?

The protein antigen component of the vaccine is produced in the North East of England by Novavax manufacturing partner, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, at its site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

GSK announced on Monday that it will provide ‘fill and finish’ manufacturing capacity – preparing vials of the final vaccine and packaging them for distribution and use – at its Barnard Castle facility, also in the North East, beginning as early as May.

It said the ‘rapid technology transfer’ between the two companies will begin immediately.

– Has the Novavax vaccine been approved?

Not yet. A rolling review is under way by the (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) MHRA to assess the vaccine.

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