Fish vac­cine fac­tory is bought by tax­payer

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Alan Tovey

A FAC­TORY which makes vac­cines for salmon and sea bream is be­ing bought by the Gov­ern­ment in a drive to churn out mil­lions of coron­avirus jabs.

The site in Brain­tree, Es­sex, has been snapped up by the tax­payer for £16m in a deal with Aim-listed an­i­mal health and genetics busi­ness Bench­mark Hold­ings. Its ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties will be up­graded and the fac­tory will be re­tooled to pro­duce mil­lions of doses of vac­cines and other gene ther­a­pies.

The deal is part of a £100m push by min­is­ters to quickly scale up Britain’s ca­pac­ity to pro­duce a vac­cine for Covid-19, as soon as one is found to work, so life can re­turn to nor­mal.

It was sealed in less than two months af­ter Bench­mark chair­man Peter Ge­orge watched one of the Gov­ern­ment’s tele­vised daily brief­ings on the pan­demic which men­tioned plans for a vac­cine task­force.

Mr Ge­orge emailed Sir Pa­trick Val­lance, Eng­land’s chief sci­en­tific ad­viser, and sent him a one-page sum­mary of Bench­mark’s op­er­a­tions.

He said: “Within 10 min­utes he replied and put me in touch with peo­ple on the task­force.”

Bench­mark spe­cialises in de­vel­op­ing and pro­duc­ing aquatic treat­ments that make fish eggs re­silient to dis­ease.

Its fac­tory was re­cently re­built but has been deemed no longer core to its op­er­a­tions, with man­age­ment seek­ing to sell up and fo­cus on re­search.

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