Agreement with CSL Seqirus will provide timely boost to pandemic preparedness against influenza
A deal has been made by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) for millions of life-saving vaccines to be produced in the UK in the event of a future influenza pandemic.
The ‘advance purchase agreement’ means healthcare company CSL Seqirus will be poised to produce over 100 million influenza pandemic vaccines if or when they are required.
Historically, UKHSA and its predecessor organisations have had similar agreements, however this is the first time the manufacturing process will be situated in the UK – providing increased security of access if global demand ever outweighs supply.
The vaccines will be produced at CSL Seqirus’s manufacturing plant in Liverpool and will be tested to combat the specific pandemic flu strain identified at the time.
Vaccines Minister, Maria Caulfield, was in no doubt about the importance of the deal: “This deal with CSL Seqirus places us on the front foot if we are faced with an influenza pandemic in the future. It will ensure vaccines are manufactured in the UK – enabling us to get jabs into arms fast regardless of global demand and save thousands of lives.”
Meanwhile, Dame Professor Jenny Harries, Chief Executive at the UK Health Security Agency, reflected: “We have seen from past pandemic events, including COVID-19, that access to effective vaccines is vital to help save lives and minimise disruption to our lives and livelihoods.
She added: “This agreement represents a major step forward in our preparedness against future influenza pandemics. Manufacturing these potentially life-saving vaccines inside the UK gives us speedier and more secure access, enabling us to roll them out to those who need them more quickly.”
Although influenza pandemics are highly unpredictable in terms of their timing, duration and severity, historic events show that they can occur at any time.
Pandemic influenza continues to be a major health security concern. There have been four major influenza pandemics over the past 100 years, occuring in 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009. The 1918 pandemic was responsible for over 50 million deaths across the world.