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UK to build labs to test vaccines against variants

The British government announced on Wednesday that it will build labs to test COVID-19 vaccines against variants of the disease. The government will spend £29.3 million (over $40.7 million) to build the labs at Public Health England’s new facilities at Porton Down, which is part of the Defense Ministry.

There, scientists will test 3,000 blood samples a week to examine vaccines’ efficacy against various COVID-19 strains.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The UK has proven itself to be a world-class force in the production of COVID-19 vaccines, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax and Valneva vaccines all researched, developed or manufactured on British soil.

“We've backed UK science from the very start of this pandemic and this multi-million-pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will enable us to further future-proof the country from the threat of new variants.

“We are committed to supporting the UK's flourishing life sciences industry and this announcement is yet another critical way we will build back better to protect the country over the coming months and years.”

Government data released on Wednesday showed that across the UK over the past 24 hours there were 2,144 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to over 4.4 million. There were also a further 27 deaths, taking the tally to 127,570.

As of May 4, over 34.7 million first doses and over 15.8 million second doses of vaccine have been administered.

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