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Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine saved from flooding at manufacturing site in Wales

A council worker in Didsbury, Manchester, checks a bridge over the River Mersey for damage after heavy rainfall caused by Storm Christoph. Picture by Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Emma Bowden, Press Association

Emergency teams were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following flooding at a manufacturing site in Wales.

Excess water surrounded buildings at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility on Wrexham Industrial Estate during heavy rainfall caused by Storm Christoph.

The leader of Wrexham County Borough said that authorities worked "through the night" to ensure that the site was not overwhelmed by flood water.

Mark Pritchard said this morning that resources such as gullies had been put in place to protect the vaccine storage facility on the industrial estate.

"I'm sure you are aware that the Oxford vaccine is manufactured there and we had to work with the company logistically with their storage facility, that was under possibility of flooding," he told Sky News.

"So we worked through the night with that and that was a success. This could have had an impact not just in Wrexham, Wales, but across the whole country with the vaccination supplies."

He added: "They were under pressure, they had serious concerns that their warehouse logistically could be flooded.

"They asked us for help and support and without hesitation, we gave them that support."

All "necessary precautions" were taken to prevent disruption to the manufacture of the jab, according to a spokeswoman for Wockhardt UK.

"Last night at approximately 1600 hours, Wockhardt UK experienced mild flooding, resulting in excess water surrounding part of the buildings across site," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"All necessary precautions were taken, meaning no disruption to manufacturing or inlet of water into buildings.

"The site is now secure and free from any further flood damage and operating as normal."

The fill-and-finish stage of the vaccine's production is undertaken at the facility, which was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November.

The company said it has had a presence in Wrexham for over two decades and employs more than 400 people at its manufacturing facility.

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