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Life Sciences Sector: Vaccine Manufacturing

Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 16 June 2020

What steps his Department is taking to support vaccine manufacturing and the UK life sciences sector. (903263)

We have set up a vaccines taskforce to lead and co-ordinate all the Government’s activities to develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. As part of that, we are investing £93 million in a vaccine manufacturing innovation centre, which will be completed 12 months ahead of schedule, by summer 2021. We are also funding a rapid deployment facility, which will be able to begin manufacturing vaccines at scale from August this year.

Ultimately, throughout this process, we are in the hands of our brilliant scientists. I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement on what he is doing to accelerate opening the vaccine manufacturing innovation centre by next summer, but what more can be done to ensure that we get on top of this disease and address it as early as we possibly can?

Of course, my hon. Friend will know that we are providing direct support to the vaccines being developed at Oxford University and Imperial College London. He may also be aware that the Imperial vaccine is now set to enter clinical human trials. We are also leading international efforts to support vaccine discovery and deployment.

UK-EU research collaboration contributes £2 billion to British research and development and accounts for at least 5,000 researchers in British universities, as well as its contributions to covid research and vaccination research. Will the Secretary of State make a commitment that, irrespective of the free trade agreement negotiations with the EU, the UK will seek third country full associate membership of Horizon Europe to keep that money coming into British R&D?

The hon. Gentleman will know that we are committed to being a science and R&D superpower, which is why we have committed to spending £22 billion a year by 2024-25 and to reaching 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The discussions with the EU are ongoing, and we will see what they lead to.