Vaccine tested in Hartlepool found to be 89.3% effective amid plans to manufacture 60 million doses in North East

A vaccine tested and preparing for production on Teesside looks set to deliver 60 million doses of a life-saving Covid jab.

Friday, 29th January 2021, 3:49 pm
Updated Friday, 29th January 2021, 3:50 pm

If given approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK, production is likely to start in March or April at the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’s plant in Belasis Avenue in Billingham.

The vaccine has been supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the nation's largest funder of health and care research, with late stage studies finding it is effective against the new variants of the virus.

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The Novavax vaccine could become the fourth approved jab for use in the UK, joining the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca already given the status.

The largest ever double blind study saw more than 15,000 volunteers – including 532 from the Durham Tees Valley area – take part in research across two months, with a quarter aged over 65 and a large proportion had underlying medical conditions.

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Half were given injections 21 days apart, while the remainder were given a placebo.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, who took part in the study, have already praised the project for its progress.

The FujifilmDiosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities in Belasis Avenue in Billingham would be used to produce the vaccine if approved. Image copyright Google Maps.

If approved, it would become the fourth to be approved for use in the UK, while a single-shot jab made by Johnson and Johnson could also be in use by the second half of this year.

Professor Caroline Wroe is Clinical Director at NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria and Co-Principal Investigator of the Novavax study in Hartlepool.

She said: “I am delighted to hear the results of the Novavax study.

"It is fantastic news. I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the participants who volunteered to take part in this important study.

“The entire team across the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance should be rightly proud of their contribution to this major achievement and I eagerly await to hear if the Novavax vaccine is given MHRA approval.”

Dr David Chadwick, Novavax Principal Investigator for the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance and Consultant in Infectious Diseases, added: “This trial couldn’t have happened without the amazing support of research delivery staff across the three Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance Trusts and the participants willing to volunteer.”

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