MILLIONS of doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be produced on Teesside in the coming months if trials are successful, it has been revealed this morning.

The Government has reached an agreement with American-based Novavax that will see the vaccine, which is currently in a testing phase, being made at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Billingham – the only manufacturing site of the vaccine across the whole of the UK.

The announcement comes after months of discussions between ministers, the company and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, and follows the recent news that Fujifilm is building a new BioCampus at its Billingham site, which Mr Houchen supported with nearly £4m.

The new development will include the construction of a 42,000 square foot purpose built office accommodation and visitor centre and is expected to include additional research and development laboratories and new manufacturing facilities, which would be used to make the vaccine.

The agreement will see up to 60 million doses of the vaccine produced on Teesside – if the clinical trials prove to be successful and the vaccine is approved for wider use.

Once manufactured in Billingham, the vaccine can be supplied to the public as soon as possible.

If the vaccines are safe and successful in clinical trials, both could be delivered to the UK in mid-2021. They would be given first to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with serious diseases, and the elderly.

Mr Houchen said: "It has been fantastic to work with Fujifilm to ensure the government has reached this agreement with them. They are doing fantastic work in our hugely important bioscience sector, creating the skilled jobs we need and leading the way on innovation, and there’s no bigger project across the world right now than creating and manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine.

“This will be the only place in the whole country where this vaccine will be manufactured, and it will be done in Teesside. It is a fantastic coup for our area and shows once again the potential and the talent we have in the region.

“We’ve heard a lot of stories about local businesses and research organisations across the region working hard to support the national effort on coronavirus, and this is the most significant step yet.

“Once again Teesside is leading the way and putting itself on the world stage for the fantastic work we do in our region. This is a significant announcement that everyone in Teesside should be proud of as we are at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to get life back to normal and protect us all from the coronavirus.”

Fujifilm supports its partners in the biopharmaceutical industry with the development and production of their biologics, vaccines and gene therapies.

Alex Cunningham MP for Stockton North said: "We all desperately want a successful vaccine and the news it could be manufactured in Billingham at Fujifilm is good – but it is still early days.

"We urgently need the jobs but there is no guarantee that this vaccine will be fit for use.

"It is premature to herald talk of jobs when the manufacturing stage could be many months - if not years - in the future. I fear this is another distraction by the Government to move people's focus away from the appalling way in which they have handled A level results which has had a devastating effect on thousands of students all over the country, including right here in Stockton.”