THE UK’s first Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will ensure the life sciences industry remains at the forefront of worldwide efforts to tackle life-threatening diseases, including Ebola.

The centre is being built at Oxford Science Park, creating more than 50 jobs in the area.

Through the modern Industrial Strategy, the Government is investing £66m through UK Research and Innovation, in the centre, to help make Britain the best place in the world for innovators, including new treatments to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives through the Life Sciences Sector Deal.

Ebola and Lassa fever are among the deadly diseases to be tackled at the pioneering new vaccine centre, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced on Saturday.

Jenner Institute Director Professor Adrian Hill said: “This is an exceptional opportunity for the UK to lead in the provision of vaccines against a wide range of outbreak pathogens which threaten to cause major epidemics.

“The lack of commercial incentive to develop these has now led to this exceptional partnership of major academic and industrial players in the vaccine field, to accelerate a range of vaccines towards large-scale manufacture and stockpile provision for vulnerable populations.

“In parallel, the centre will develop innovative manufacturing technologies with UK companies and universities to support the next generation of life-saving preventive and therapeutic vaccines.”

The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will help to tackle disease worldwide, as well as further boosting the growth of the UK’s £70 billion life sciences industry.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “More than 200 years ago the UK pioneered the first vaccine and, with it, smallpox was eradicated.

“Now as the world is threatened by killers such as Ebola and Lassa fever we will build on our significant heritage and history to fight against them with our unmatched reputation for medical research and innovation. The Government is investing in pioneering vaccine manufacturing as part of our modern Industrial Strategy to create more highly skilled jobs, place the NHS at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and deliver the biggest increase in public investment in research and development in UK history.”

The availability of safe, effective and economical vaccines is an important pillar of world health. Alongside more familiar diseases, populations globally are threatened by new outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an outbreak of Ebola beginning last August has resulted in 357 confirmed cases and 186 deaths, while this year a Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has resulted in 553 confirmed cases and 143 deaths. There are presently no licensed vaccines available for these diseases.

The UK’s world-leading research and innovation expertise is ideally placed to create new, cost-effective ways of developing and manufacturing vaccines for global distribution, as well as ensuring the UK’s own preparedness.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “Vaccines are a modern marvel and their introduction catapulted our healthcare system years ahead. This year we celebrated 50 years since the introduction of the measles vaccine, which has potentially averted 20 million measles cases.”

The centre is expected to open in 2022, with the first products expected later this year.