Fish vaccine factory is bought by taxpayer
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.