Pharmaceutical company Valneva has started commercial manufacture of its Covid-19 vaccine in Livingston, Scotland, although the vaccine is still in phase I/II trials and has yet to receive regulatory approval.
VLA2001 is currently the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against Covid-19 in Europe. If the vaccine is approved the Livingston facility will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses annually.
The UK government made a multi-million-pound joint investment in the facility last year as part of an agreement to secure early access to the Valneva vaccine by the end of 2021. The UK has ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine, with an option to acquire a further 130 million if it proves to be safe and effective.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing a growing part of Scottish economy, valued at £1.8 billion, with both employment and exports having grown in recent years, according to a new report from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute.
The report shows that some 5,600 people are directly employed by pharmaceutical companies, with the majority of jobs in North Ayrshire, the Highlands and Dundee. This is a 9 per cent increase on the number reported in 2018.
The industry exports £575 million worth of manufactured goods, up from £550 million in 2017. Annual spending on pharmaceutical R&D is now £165 million – up almost £45 million since 2012. Pharmaceutical manufacturing is the second-largest spender on R&D after technical testing and analysis services, and supports 11,350 jobs in Scotland.
The sector is playing a role in the coronavirus pandemic. Symbiosis, a specialist pharma services firm, helped manufactured the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for clinical trials.