Oxford Biomedica is pairing with the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organisation established to provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability.

The five-year deal will see the parties work collaboratively to facilitate the manufacture of viral vector based vaccines, to help boost UK domestic capacity for this specialised type of vaccine manufacturing.

Oxford Biomedica and VMIC are both original members of the Oxford University manufacturing consortium, which focuses on ramping up GMP manufacture of the adenovirus vector based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222 (previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), which has entered clinical trials at multiple sites in the UK.

Under the agreement, VMIC will provide manufacturing equipment for Oxford Biomedica to rapidly equip two new GMP manufacturing suites within the latter's new commercial manufacturing centre Oxbox, located in Oxford, UK, to provide 'significant additional manufacturing capacity and enable further scale up for AZD1222 from the summer of 2020'.

Oxford Biomedica will provide training and technical assistance to VMIC staff to accelerate the operational readiness and GMP manufacturing capabilities for viral vector vaccine candidates at VMIC’s new manufacturing site located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The VMIC facility is due to open in mid-2021, a year ahead of schedule.

The agreement also provides a framework for a longer-term partnership between Oxford Biomedica and VMIC, whereby Oxford Biomedica could rapidly provide its commercial scale manufacturing capacity to supply other novel viral vector vaccine candidates for the UK population, when needed.

“Since we became involved in addressing the urgent need for UK manufacturing capacity for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222, we have strived to support VMIC’s broader goal of accelerating and supporting UK manufacturing capacity and capabilities for vaccines more generally,” said John Dawson, Oxford Biomedica's chief executive.

“This highly collaborative partnership allows for a rapid deployment capability to be established, and also accelerates fit out and utilisation of another two GMP manufacturing suites within our new commercial manufacturing facility, Oxbox.”

Matthew Duchars, VMIC's chief executive said the collaboration “means that together we can significantly increase the UK’s capacity to manufacture viral vectors vaccines as part of a national effort in response to COVID-19”.