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COVID-19: £29.3 million labs to be constructed at Porton Down to check vaccine efficacy towards COVID-19 variants | Politics Information

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Laboratories to check present and new COVID-19 vaccines towards variants of concern are to be constructed at Porton Down, the federal government has introduced.

A complete of £29.3 million will go in direction of constructing the “state-of-the-art” laboratories at Public Well being England’s new testing amenities on the Ministry of Defence’s top-secret complicated in Wiltshire.

Scientists will have the ability to check 3,000 blood samples every week – greater than 4 instances the present quantity – for the degrees of COVID-19 antibodies generated by vaccines to allow them to assess their effectiveness towards variants of concern.

Growing the variety of exams will permit vaccines designed to “fight particular mutations of COVID-19” to be developed shortly, the Division of Well being and Social Care mentioned.

There are fears about vaccines not being efficient towards variants that may be extra transmissible and extra lethal.

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For the reason that pandemic began in March 2020, the virus that causes COVID-19 has managed to shortly develop a number of mutations which have involved scientists, together with the Kent, South African, Indian, and Brazil variants.

Anthony Harnden, deputy chief of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the federal government, warned in March booster vaccines to battle future variants could also be wanted as early as this autumn.

Well being Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned: “The UK has confirmed itself to be a world-class power within the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax and Valneva vaccines all researched, developed or manufactured on British soil.

“We have backed UK science from the very begin of this pandemic and this multi-million pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will allow us to additional future-proof the nation from the specter of new variants.

“We’re dedicated to supporting the UK’s flourishing life sciences business and this announcement is yet one more important means we are going to construct again higher to guard the nation over the approaching months and years.”

Scientists at Porton Down are used to dealing with a number of the most harmful substances on this planet

The brand new laboratories might be along with amenities at Porton Down authorized in September that may greater than double the present scientific testing of vaccines from 700 variant samples every week to 1,500 by January 2022 at a value of £19.7 million.

A date for when the brand new laboratories ought to be completed by has not been launched by the federal government.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief government of the newly fashioned UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA), mentioned a brand new variant that may escape the present vaccines is “the best danger of a 3rd wave” and the brand new funding will “assist us keep one step forward of the virus”.

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