UK vaccine plant evacuated after getting suspicious package

Britain Vaccine Police

LONDON (AP) — A British pharmaceutical manufacturing company producing coronavirus vaccines had to partially evacuate its factory Wednesday after receiving a “suspicious package.”

The U.K. arm of Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Wockhardt, which is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in north Wales, said it notified authorities after receiving the package on Wednesday morning.

“Upon expert advice, we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation. The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance," the company said in a statement.

North Wales Police said they were dealing with the “ongoing incident” at the Wrexham Industrial Estate, 42 miles (68 kilometers) south of Liverpool. They closed the surrounding roads and asked residents to avoid the area until further notice. The force did not provide further details.

The Ministry of Defense said an ordnance disposal team had been called out and was assisting authorities at the plant. The BBC reported that there were no injuries.

The company employs 400 people but did not elaborate on how many were evacuated Wednesday.

Wockhardt UK had struck an agreement with the British government, which reserved a production line at the Welsh plant to guarantee the supply of the COVID-19 vaccines. The company recently hosted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hailed the agreement as a milestone in Britain's vaccine distribution program.

Last week, emergency teams were deployed to protect supplies of the coronavirus vaccine following flooding at the Wrexham industrial area. Wockhardt said at the time that all precautions were taken to prevent a disruption in manufacturing.


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