To ask the Secretary of State for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of directing UKRI to fund research into platform vaccine and diagnostic tools to support the development of vaccines during a potential pandemic.
We work with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Department for International Development, and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support research on platform vaccine technologies and diagnostic tools that can be utilised as a rapid response during a pandemic. These form a component of the current DHSC and UKRI COVID-19 rapid-response call for proposals to address the threat of this novel coronavirus. Platform vaccines and diagnostics are an integral part of UKRI’s current approach for the development and translation of research findings into tangible benefits, with research funded across UKRI councils
DHSC and UKRI lead the UK Vaccine Network which brings together funders, industry and academia to identify and target investment opportunities for the most promising vaccines and vaccine technologies, including platform vaccine and diagnostic tools to combat infectious diseases with epidemic potential and to address structural issues related to the UK’s vaccine infrastructure.
Through the Network two vaccine manufacturing hubs have been established to streamline vaccine manufacturing. A £10 million award to Professor Robin Shuttock at Imperial College London aims to revolutionise the vaccine manufacture, stabilisation and storage, reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving prevention of existing and new diseases. A £7 million award to Professor Tarit Mukhopadhyay at University College London aims to establish the UK as a global centre for vaccine discovery, development and manufacture, while also ensuring that new vaccine manufacturing processes can be used in low and middle income countries.