Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has demanded clarity on whether the Novavax vaccine will be produced on Teesside after Novavax bosses refused to confirm when or if any of the vaccine would be made at Fujifilm, Billingham.
Correspondence from Novavax to Alex on 2 February 2022 suggested that the company was readying Fujifilm, Billingham, for manufacture. In an email from Novavax’s Public Affairs Team Alex was told:
Manufacturing has begun at the Fuji Teesside facility. While our initial filing for CMA relies on product being manufactured by our partner in India, the Serum Institute, we plan to amend our application to include UK manufacturing sites soon. Fuji Teesside is currently completing engineering runs and preparing to initiate the process quality campaign required to amend our regulatory filing.
However public statements from Novavax’s Head of Corporate Affairs following its approval by the MHRA have now cast doubt on the situation.
Now Alex – who has been vocal in his campaign to see Novavax approved in a timely manner – has contacted the company seeking clarity on this. He has also submitted a Written Parliamentary Question to the Health Secretary on the matter and should receive a response by 9 February.
“The announcement that Novavax was to be made at Fujifilm, Billingham, was done with a huge amount of fanfare that included the Prime Minister traveling to the site for a photo-op. Since that time we’ve had delays in approval and uncertainty for people, which led to my intervention in raising the matter with Novavax themselves.
“Yesterday’s news that Novavax had finally been approved was widely celebrated, including be myself, and naturally people expected manufacture to begin at Fujifilm soon – with early doses being manufactured elsewhere.
“Sadly there is now uncertainty about that and Novavax’s refusal to confirm or deny if this will actually be the case only makes matters worse. We were told Billingham would be leading the fight against Coronavirus, and we were told local people would benefit from the jobs created as a result. It is imperative that Novavax – and the Health Secretary – urgently provide some real clarity on this matter.”
Novavax was approved for use for over-18’s yesterday, 3 February, after a long period of uncertainty which saw Alex lead calls in Parliament for clarity around the approval stages. The Government announced that the vaccine would take a role in the tackling the “next phase” of the pandemic.