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UK labs for testing vaccine efficacy get £29.3m boost

Image: Number 10 [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

New Porton Down facilities are aimed at fast-tracking development of vaccines against Covid variants

The UK government has announced new money to set up and expand “state-of-the-art labs” to test vaccines’ efficacy against new strains of coronavirus.

Public Health England’s facilities at Porton Down (pictured) will get £29.3 million to “accelerate the pace and scale” of specialised blood testing, the health department said on 5 May, with an aim to “support the rapid development of vaccines designed to combat specific mutations of Covd-19”.

“We’ve backed UK science from the very start of this pandemic and this multimillion-pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will enable us to further futureproof the country from the threat of new variants,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

“We are committed to supporting the UK’s flourishing life sciences industry, and this announcement is yet another critical way we will build back better to protect the country over the coming months and years.”

The minister for Covid-19 vaccine deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, added: “This funding will allow us to increase the testing capacity at Porton Down with a new, innovative facility and ensure our Covid-19 vaccines are effective against any future variants of concern.

“The UK remains at the forefront of vaccine research and development, and today’s announcement will further cement us as a global frontrunner in our future response to Covid-19.”