INDIAN drugmaker Wockhardt Ltd has said it will supply millions of doses of multiple Covid-19 vaccines to the UK, including the one being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The company has dedicated a fill-and-finish capacity — the final manufacturing step of putting vaccines into vials or syringes and packaging them — as part of an agreement with the UK government, it said on Monday (3).
The UK government has also reserved one fill-and-finish production line at a Wockhardt subsidiary in Wrexham, Wales, for its exclusive use for the next 18 months to secure supply.
Commenting on the development, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Ensuring the UK has the capability to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine is critical in our fight against coronavirus.
“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.”
Dr Habil Khorakiwala, founder chairman of Wockhardt, said: “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.”
Currently, more than 150 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to stop the pandemic, with 25 in human clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
Kate Bingham, chair of UK Vaccines Task Force, said: “Never before have we needed to find and manufacture a vaccine at this speed and scale in order to protect the UK population.
“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.”
Ravi Limaye, managing director of Wockhardt UK, said the company was “immensely proud” in “taking a lead role in the nation’s fight” against the pandemic.
“We expect to start delivering the first doses of the vaccine later this year,” he added.