The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has opened a vaccine development and evaluation centre (VDEC) to globally bolster pandemic preparedness.
Located at the Porton Down site of the UKHSA, the facility is spread over 2,800m² of laboratory space.
The centre will have more than 200 scientists, who will work on almost 100 projects.
VDEC will facilitate the development of new vaccines by testing and assessing them against a range of threats that can lead to a health emergency.
The facility will operate throughout the vaccine lifecycle, from product design to the assessment of effectiveness with the emergence of new variants.
The key focus will be on pathogens for which there currently exist no vaccines, or for which vaccines are not regulated in the UK, including avian influenza and monkeypox.
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VDEC is said to be capable of delivering new vaccines within 100 days of detecting a new threat.
UKHSA chief executive professor Dame Jenny Harries stated: “VDEC is a unique facility in the UK, delivering multiple critical early pre and post-clinical research and evaluation studies in a single research facility.
“This essential work will lead the way over the coming years in our fight against potentially deadly pathogens, further enhancing the UK’s credentials as a global science superpower.
“As well as building on the legacy of the pandemic caused by Covid-19, VDEC will target a wide range of other deadly viruses and pathogens, helping to secure the health and prosperity of the UK and saving lives around the world.”