UK AstraZeneca vaccine factory evacuated over suspicious package

Vials with a sticker reading, “COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only” and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration picture.

A suspicious package at an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine plant in Wales which forced a temporary suspension of manufacturing has been made safe and production schedules of the shots have not been affected, the company Wockhardt UK said on Wednesday.

The Wockhardt plant in Wrexham provides so-called fill-and-finish capacity for AstraZeneca’s UK supply chain, which is the final manufacturing step of putting vaccines into vials or syringes and packaging them.

Wockhardt said there had been a partial evacuation of its site after it received package on Wednesday morning, and that manufacturing was paused while the package was investigated.

“We can now confirm that the package was made safe and staff are now being allowed back into the facility,” Wockhardt UK said in a statement. “This temporary suspension of manufacturing has in no way affected our production schedule.”

Police, who called out the bomb disposal squad to the incident, did not clarify whether the package had posed a threat but said the contents would be analysed and there would be an investigation into the circumstances.

“There are no wider concerns for public safety,” a police statement said.

Last week, there was flooding near the Wockhardt site but its manufacturing of the vaccine was unaffected.

AstraZeneca has agreed to supply Britain with 100 million doses of the COVID vaccine it developed with Oxford University, with the shots forming the central plank of its mass vaccination programme.

AstraZeneca is currently in a dispute with the European Union after it cut vaccine supplies to the bloc due to production issues at its Belgian factory.

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