Coronavirus vaccine could be here before Christmas

 

Exclusive: Australia is in advanced talks to secure Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine which could be delivered before Christmas.

The hotly anticipated vaccine is due to be manufactured next month at a plant in north Wales and already has orders for 400 million doses across the world.

The British government has reserved a section of Wockhardt's plant in Wrexham, about four hours' drive north of the capital Cardiff, for 18 months.

Wockhardt managing director Ravi Limaye, said he hoped to deliver doses of the Oxford vaccine "very soon."

"The industry is working, as you know at unprecedented speed, everything going well we expect to start delivering the first dose very soon, maybe even before Christmas," he said.

Ravi Limaye, managing director of Wockhardt UK, pictured with manufacturing workers at their production line in Wrexham, North Wales. Picture: Hollie Adams
Ravi Limaye, managing director of Wockhardt UK, pictured with manufacturing workers at their production line in Wrexham, North Wales. Picture: Hollie Adams

The Wrexham facility was undergoing validation trials to prepare for the vaccine when News Corp Australia visited last week.

The A-Grade medical manufacturing facility, inside the sprawling medical manufacturing plant, is about the size of an Australian living room.

But it will be able to produce up to 400 vials a minute, or 40 million per year, of Oxford University's promising vaccine candidate from September.

The vaccine will be delivered in bulk to the factory and then processed into five millilitre glass vials to be distributed by the UK's National Health Service.

"We started the process at the end of February the last two or three months we have been working extremely hard to get this facility up and running to be ready for the finish of the vaccine," Mr Limaye said.

"The validation process will start any time now. We expect complete validation in August and September and after that, everything going well we would start manufacturing the vials of the vaccine," he said.

"With regulatory approvals as soon as possible, the vials will be available for immunisation for people."

Workers at the plant are proud to be a part of the work that could save lives. Picture: Supplied
Workers at the plant are proud to be a part of the work that could save lives. Picture: Supplied

A sign out the front of the plant was advertising for staff, as the company prepares to ramp up production.

Workers at the plant were happy and proud to be a part of the work that could save lives and end lockdowns that have cost the world's economy billions of dollars and cost millions of jobs.

A report published in The Lancet in July showed that the Oxford vaccine candidate, a chimpanzee adenovirus which has the chemical name of ChAdOx1, was successful in a trial of 1,077 people.

Results showed that it caused a T-cell response, which blood cells that attack the COVID-19 virus, within 14 days and an antibody response, which can neutralise the virus, within 28 days.

The vaccine, which was tested on animals at an Australian CSIRO laboratory in Geelong, Victoria, was now in advanced stage 3 trials in South Africa and Brazil of 5000 people each, along with a United States trial of 30,000 people.

Australian health authorities were also in discussions with other potential vaccines, it was understood.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said after The Lancet report in late July that he was confident there would be a coronavirus vaccine.

"I now believe we are close to a vaccine and I am confident that if that happens - knowing there is still no certainty - that we will be in a position to provide vaccines for all Australians," he said at the time.

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

Originally published as Coronavirus vaccine could be here before Christmas


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