Vaccine mega-factory will combine Covid and flu jab into single shot

The UK’s vaccine mega-factory is working to combine Covid and flu immunisations into a single shot (VMIC UK / Getty)

A UK ‘mega-factory’ is working to combine a Covid-19 jab and flu vaccination into a single shot.

The single dose approach could be used to speed up booster programmes and help protect health services during the winter months.

Matthew Duchars, the CEO of the Vaccine Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) in Oxfordshire, said the facility is evaluating the possibility of a single jab.

Many vulnerable people may require Covid boosters as their immunity drops and new variants emerge.

Combining this with the annual flu jab may be an efficient way to keep people safe.

Dr Duchars said: ‘It will save a lot of time and it would be a lot more convenient to just give one shot, so it is something that we and vaccine developers and producers will be looking at.

‘Let’s say we do need to give a seasonal vaccine, and people need one shot for flu, and one shot for Covid and another for something else. If you can put them all into one, then that’s obviously preferable,’ he told the Telegraph.

The VMIC is set to open in the coming months following a year of construction and over £200 million in government investment.

Once operational, it will be able to produce 70,000,000 vaccine doses over the span of four or five months.

Dr Duchars told the Telegraph: ‘Our target is reasonable. I feel confident we can do that. Can we do it faster? Possibly. Hopefully. We’ll absolutely be working on trying to do that.’

Alongside plans to help ease the UK out of the pandemic, the VMIC will have other responsibilities.

Day-to-day work will be partnering with industry, academic or research teams and providing expertise and manufacturing capability in order to take vaccines quickly from discovery to a licensed product.

The VMIC facility base during construction in November 2020 (Stuart March Photography)

The initial idea for the mega-factory came about in 2018, before Covid-19 was on the map. But once the pandemic took hold., plans were brought forward and the facility is set to be completed 12 months ahead of schedule.

Because the UK’s vaccine rollout has been so successful, the VMIC won’t be required until 2022, when it begins to take the weight of the vaccine booster programme.

‘For this year’s vaccination and current levels of doses, the government has all of that covered in terms of what they need to manufacture,’ Dr Duchars said.


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