The need to improve vaccine manufacture – can the UK respond effectively to Ebola in the future?

According to an article in the Independent newspaper (by John Hall, 25/01/16), the UK Science and Technology Committee said Britain “lacks the capacity” to produce vaccines in enough quantity to protect citizens in the event of a serious outbreak of a deadly disease such as Ebola. Key factors cited centered on poor manufacturing facilities, supply chain dependency, and delays.

The recent Zika virus outbreak in South America further highlights that there needs to be a re-think in the way vaccines are developed: due to the uncertain commercial prospects, large pharmaceutical companies often shy away from investing in tropical disease vaccines. Health experts are therefore calling for an overhaul of the way the development of new drugs is currently incentified. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health declared that there should be “some kind of a plan that makes (companies) feel there is a sustainable solution and not just a one-shot deal over and over again”
RiHN researchers at the University of Sussex are currently working some new approaches that have the potential to eliminate some of the problems faced in pandemic-hit countries: they are investigating how new production technologies and systems will allow the re-distribution of vaccine manufacturing and how the development and location of micro-factories could bring research and production closer to the point of need.

You can meet our researchers at our free event “The Future of Pharmaceutical Supply Chains” on the 3rd March 2016.

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