North East boasts significant manufacturing capabilities , says NE Advisory Group Chair
“ It is easy to overlook how critical the role of the North East is in what has been a global response , and perhaps we need to burn the bushel and shine some light on our brightest stars ” – says Sam Whitehouse , Chair of Medilink North East Advisory Group , speaking about the manufacturing capabilities of the region .
Sam has recently taken over as CEO of High Force Research which supplies chemical compounds to major biotech companies , 80 % of which go to the USA , from its facility in Durham .
The manufacture of the Novavax vaccine for COVID-19 at the GSK facility in County Durham is another example of the North East ’ s impressive manufacturing capabilities , which help save lives and create high value jobs for the regional economy .
FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies produce the protein antigen component of the Novavax vaccine in Stocktonon-Tees , only 30 miles from the GSK ’ s Barnard Castle factory . Novavax ’ s NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate has presented strong efficacy in Phase 3 clinical trials , with data showing that it is 96.4 % effective against the original Covid-19 strain and 86.3 % effective against the UK variant .
“ Following the difficulties that the UK experienced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in securing urgently needed medical supplies and components , it is essential that the UK becomes more self-sufficient and continues to invest in the life sciences ecosystem , particularly in our manufacturing and supply chain resilience .”, says Sam .
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine leads on COVID-19 vaccine and human infection research
A world-first study carried out at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine explores the effectiveness of mixing different COVID-19 vaccines on the immune system . The purpose of the study is to test whether combining doses from different manufacturers may give longerlasting immunity against the virus and any new variants . The vaccine trial started in February with the focus on AstraZeneca and Pfizer , and has recently expanded to include Moderna and Novavax .
The LSTM ’ s work on the innovative therapeutic solutions for COVID is part of its £ 18.6m funding received from UK Research and Innovation ( UKRI )
Strength in Places Fund , which recognised the Liverpool City Region and the world-class expertise in the North West .
Dr Helen Hill , Co-Prinicpal investigator of the study at the LSTM , said : “ What we are trying to do is look at whether or not , if somebody had either AstraZeneca or Pfizer in February this year , and we need to boost them with a different vaccine such as Moderna , or a newer one called Novavax , or the same vaccine again we will look to see what those comparisons are so in future this could be a method they used in the roll out .”