The world's largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, will invest £240 million ($333 million) in the United Kingdom and might produce vaccines in Britain in the future.
The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made this announcement hours ahead of significant talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
The Serum Institute's investment will support clinical trials, research and development, and "possibly" manufacturing of vaccines to help the UK and the world defeat the coronavirus pandemic and other deadly diseases, Downing Street said.
"Serum has already started phase one trials in the UK of a one-dose nasal vaccine for coronavirus in partnership with Codagenix INC", Downing Street added.
The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine maker and has been leading in manufacturing the low-cost AstraZeneca coronavirus shot. SII makes 60-70 million AstraZeneca doses per month and this is projected to go up to 100 million by July.
Based in Pune, a city near Mumbai, SII is a state-of-the-art production facility headed by Adar Poonawalla, a 40-year-old scion of a pharmaceutical dynasty.
Poonawalla left India last week to be with his family in the United Kingdom, just before Britain put India on the no-travel list of countries, drawing the wrath of Indians who accused him of ditching the country in a crisis.
In an interview with The Times, he said he was being threatened and pressured back home by influential people seeking vaccines on priority.
"Threats is an understatement", he had said in the interview.
Amongst multiple reports it is important that correct information be shared with the public. pic.twitter.com/nzyOZwVBxH— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) May 3, 2021
SII's investment is part of various deals announced by Downing Street on 3 May, ahead of the virtual summit between Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi on Tuesday. An estimated 6,500 additional UK jobs will be created as a result of the trade deals.
An enhanced trade partnership between India and the UK will also cover around 20 export deals clinched by British firms.