CEO Update | 26 April 2021

The Government is seeking a Chair for its newly announced  Antiviral Taskforce on COVID-19. Details of the role, along with other exciting opportunities in our sector, are on the sector jobs section of the BIA website. 

The new Taskforce’s ambition is to find one or two treatments for COVID-19 this year, either in a capsule or tablet form, that can be taken at home at the moment of first diagnosis.  Today’s story in The Telegraph (£) gives a glimpse at how a pill could be developed in the timeframe.

Also announced by the Government last week was a global Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP) aiming to ensure that high quality vaccines can be developed in as little as 100 days in future pandemics.  The Partnership will be chaired by UK Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance and will report to June’s G7 Summit. It has assembled an impressive lineup of industry, political, academic and regulatory leaders to participate, including John Tsai of Novartis, Sir Mene Pangalos of AztraZeneca, Mikael Dolsten of Pfizer and Paul Stoffels from Johnson & Johnson.   

The Partnership is an opportunity to build on existing UK infrastructure including our world-class research base, our growing vaccine manufacturing and world-leading genomics capability. We look forward to contributing to the development of the Partnership’s thinking and seeing the final recommendations at the G7 Summit in June.

Over the weekend No 10 Downing Street’s social media unit released its much trailed 30-minute documentary - A Beacon of Hope: The UK vaccine story. It tells the story of the UK vaccine development and roll out with some familiar faces such as Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam whose explanation of the challenges of scaling up vaccine production in his own unique way, is worth the viewing time alone.

Upcoming events and training opportunities at the National Horizon Centre

The National Horizons Centre (NHC) based at Teeside University offers several training courses in advanced therapies, vaccine manufacturing and bioprocessing. The NHC is one of the National Training Centres for Advanced Therapies and to read more about the opportunities for continuing professional development, please follow this link.

The Tees Valley has been a critical regional hub in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and the NHC has several upcoming events linking to this work including an event this Friday which will include a keynote speech from Steve Bagshaw, Manufacturing lead of the UK Vaccines Taskforce. On May 12, the NHC, CPI and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies will discuss the Northern Bio-Accelerator programme.

Personalised medicine webinar

The challenges of creating personalised medicine will be discussed at an upcoming webinar ‘Accelerating personalised medicine – How the pandemic is driving innovation in bioprocessing’. Representatives from Oxford Biomedica will be speaking at the event and more information can be found here

The Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator

The Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) has a new website, which provides details on their mission to accelerate the development of nucleic acid therapeutics. There has also been a pre-announcement of NATA’s Manufacture funding call, where further details can be found here.

Personally, I’m looking forward to presenting the case for flexible advanced biomanufacturing capability at the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board as part of the Spring schedule of government/industry engagements, starting this week.