GSK to produce 60 million Novavax doses for Britain

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GlaxoSmithKline is to manufacture 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US biotech company Novavax for UK distribution, the British pharmaceutical giant said in a statement Monday.

A statement from the company said they had reached an "agreement in principe" to make the doses at a plant in the northeast of England "beginning as early as May 2021".

British Prime Minister Johnson confirmed the news at a news conference Monday, while adding that the vaccine was still subject to approval from the UK's independent medicines regulator.

Calling the vaccine "a potentially significant new weapon in our armoury against COVID", Johnson said the deal would give Britain "between 50 and 60 million doses of UK-made vaccine".

Earlier this year, Fujifilm announced it would be creating Novavax's COVID jab at sites in northeast England.

Johnson added that their production of the US-developed jab was already underway, ahead of approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Novavax said earlier this month it hoped to file for MHRA approval of its vaccine at the start of the second quarter of 2021, and to do the same soon after in the United States.

Clinical trials conducted by the US biotech in the UK involved 15,000 people and showed 89.3 percent efficacy for the vaccine, Novavax announced at the end of January.

The Novavax vaccine was 95.6 percent effective against the original COVID-19 strain, according to the trials, and 85.6 percent effective against the more contagious variant first identified in the UK.

The British government has secured an order for 60 million doses of the Novavax jab, as part of its rollout, the largest in the country's history.

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