Seqirus investing $52M, adding 100 jobs to U.K. flu vaccine site prompted by thoughts of pandemics

Seqirus, the world's second largest flu vaccine maker, is adding a fill-finish operation to its site in Liverpool, U.K.

Seqirus not only makes seasonal vaccines to help protect consumers against the flu, it also is contracted by the UK government to be in a constant state of readiness in case of a pandemic. That has prompted the world's second-largest flu vaccine maker to invest another £40 million to its site in Liverpool and add about 100 jobs so it can shorten the time it takes to respond to an outbreak.  

The $52.5 million investment enables Seqirus, a unit of Australia’s CSL, to build a fill-finish operation at the Liverpool site where it makes Fluad, its adjuvanted seasonal flu vaccine for adults 65 and older. It currently ships the vaccine to Italy where a contractor handles that part of its process.

“Speed is of the essence in a pandemic situation. This investment means we can complete production of more pandemic vaccine much more rapidly, saving vital days in getting vaccines out to protect the British population as well as to other countries around the world,” Laura O’Brien, VP of operations and site head at Liverpool, said in a statement.

RELATED: Seqirus adding vax production facility in U.K.

The project, expected to be complete in 2019, calls for adding nearly 100 workers, the company said Wednesday. Bringing the process in-house not only shortens the manufacturing process, it reduces the risks that come from transporting vaccine and means it will no longer have to be on anyone else’s schedule, a spokesman explained.

The expansion will bring to £60 million ($78.8 million) the company has committed to the site in the last two years. The additional jobs will bring to more than 700, the number of workers there.

RELATED: FDA approves Seqirus' Fluad, the first U.S. adjuvanted flu vaccine

Government responsibilities aside, the expansion will allow Seqirus to get Fluad to the market faster each year. The adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine is approved in 38 countries, including the U.S., where it became the first adjuvanted flu vaccine available in the country when the FDA approved it in 2015. It contains Seqirus adjuvant MF59, which creates a stronger immune response in seniors, who often don’t elicit a sufficient response to flu vaccines.

The FDA approval also was Seqirus first regulatory blessing after it was formed in 2015 following CSL’s $275 million purchase of Novartis' flu vaccines business, catapulting into the  world's second-largest flu vaccine provider behind Sanofi Pasteur.

The Seqirus announcement comes weeks after Sanofi Pasteur itself said it will invest more than $200 million in a new plant in France to produce its its most recently developed four-in-one flu shot, VaxigripTetra. The new facility at its Val de Reuil manufacturing site will replace an existing plant and 350 workers will transfer when it is operational by 2021.