The Prime Minister will launch the Medicines and Diagnostic Manufacturing Transformation Fund tomorrow from North Wales. Mr Johnson hopes the fund will create thousands of jobs in medicine manufacturing, as well as boost the country’s capability in handling pandemics in the future. The UK has reported 15,871 cases of coronavirus and 479 deaths yesterday, according to the Office of National Statistics. In total, Britain has seen 1,621,305 cases of the virus, and 58,342 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.
The fund is intended to encourage medicine manufacturers to build new British factories with state of the art technology to compete on a global scale.
Eligible companies will bid for help with the costs of establishing new factories when the fund opens in the middle of next year.
Mr Johnson said on its announcement: “This new £20 million fund will significantly increase the capacity and resilience of our medicines and diagnostics manufacturing supply chains and equip us to fight future health crises.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen a coming together of British scientific industry and innovation and this new fund will enhance the UK’s manufacturing capabilities even further.”
Boris Johnson news: The Prime Minister announced a £20 million fund for Britain’s pandemic battle
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Alok Sharma, Business Secretary, also spoke of the new medical fund, and touted it as essential for combating any future outbreaks.
He added: “The positive and timely response of our medicines manufacturers to the pandemic has been remarkable, but we want to ensure that the UK’s supply chains are even more resilient in the future.
“There are huge opportunities for innovation in medicines and diagnostics, and this new fund will put the UK head and shoulders above others, boosting the UK’s capabilities and generating significant economic opportunities across the country.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak allocated the £20 million fund as part of his 2021/2022 Spending Review last week.
Boris Johnson news: Alok Sharma said the fund is essential to boost ‘resilience’
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NHS leaders and charities have urged the Government to invest into British medical manufacturing after the first wave of coronavirus strained the UK’s supplies of medicines.
Layla McCay, director of International Relations at the NHS Confederation, urged the Government In May to play “its full part” in the global supply of medicines.
Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, added at the time that no dialysis fluids are made in the UK, and said: “We need to learn from this, the supply chain isn’t as good – isn’t as robust – as it could be.
“If it cannot be guaranteed, there has to be a commitment to some UK initiative on this.”
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry also flagged supply issues from a no-deal Brexit to Sky News, claiming additional cost, red-tape and possible delays could happen should the UK leave the EU without a trade agreement.
It comes after Oxford University and AstraZeneca announced their vaccine candidate for coronavirus has been submitted to the UK’s drug regulatory body.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the referral “marks a significant first step in getting the vaccine approved for deployment” should it meet requirements for safety, efficacy and quality.
More than 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine have been reserved for Britons, with 40 million doses set to be rolled out by the end of the year.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) were also asked last week to assess the US-made Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
Boris Johnson news: Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine has already been submitted to the MHRA
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The NHS has also been told to prepare for a vaccine roll-out by December 7, as the UK could receive its first deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine soon.
Should the MHRA approve the candidate, NHS England will receive stocks of the jab to administer to NHS workers first.
Over 80’s and care home residents were placed as high priority for a vaccine, but the short shelf-life of the Pfizer vaccine has forced a rethink on who will receive it first.
A senior hospital executive told the Guardian: “It’s the Pfizer vaccine we’re getting, so it can’t be moved again once it gets to us and we then have to use it within five days, as that’s its shelf life.
“The original plan was to do care homes first. But once the vaccine gets to us it can’t be used in the community, so only NHS staff will be able to have it, at least initially.”