The UK government has signed a new deal with biotech organisation Wockhardt to increase the manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines.

The UK has entered into an 18-month agreement with Wockhardt to carry out the crucial ‘fill and finish’ stage of the manufacturing process. This includes dispensing the manufactured vaccines substance into vials for distribution.

According to a statement released by the UK government yesterday, this aspect of the manufacturing process is expect to begin in September 2020.

The manufacturing will take place at CP Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Wockhardt, which is based in Wrexham, North Wales. This facility has the capacity to finish millions of coronavirus vaccine doses.

“Ensuring the UK has the capability to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine is critical in our fight against coronavirus,” said 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 added.

The Wockhardt deal comes as the new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre continues to be constructed on Oxfordshire, UK.

While this centre is under construction, the UK government has also invested £38m to establish a rapid deployment facility, which is due to open later this summer.

“Fill and finish is a critical step in the process to get the vaccine in a form to be given to patients,” said Kate Bingham, Chair of the UK’s Vaccines Taskforce.

“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,” she added.