Cops arrest man after AstraZeneca Covid vaccine factory targeted with suspicious package that halted jab production

COPS have arrested a man today after a suspicious package was sent to a Covid vaccine factory, halting jab production.

The Wockhardt plant in Wrexham, North Wales was cordoned off yesterday, where doses of the AstraZeneca jab are made and stored.

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A 53-year-old man from Chatham was arrested after warrants were carried out at homes in the area.

The man was arrested on suspicion of sending the package, and is in police custody.

Enquiries are continuing but cops said there is "no evidence to suggest an ongoing threat".

Production of vaccines at the plant was suspended for hours yesterday to keep staff safe after the site was evacuated, Wockhardt UK said.

A "suspicious package" was taken away for examination by the military bomb disposal unit.

The company said they "still intend to progress with the previously approved production schedule".

The public had been urged to stay away from the industrial estate, which can produce around 300 million vials of the vaccine per year.

John Roberts, who runs a business next to the plant, said he heard a "big bang" at around 11.30am.

He told the BBC: "Three of us were talking then we heard a hell of an explosion or a bang.


"I went outside, couldn't see anything. I looked the other side and two blokes were on the roof.

"The next thing the police had blocked off the road and were looking in the bushes."

His son Mark said: "The police just closed the road off and we've heard there's a bomb disposal unit.

"We're on tenterhooks."

Factory owners Wockhardt said that police were called at 10.40am after receiving reports of a suspicious package.

A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that the investigation on the suspicious package received today has been concluded.

“Given that staff safety is our main priority manufacturing was temporarily paused whilst this took place safely.


“We can now confirm that the package was made safe and staff are now being allowed back into the facility.

“This temporary suspension of manufacturing has in no way affected our production schedule and we are grateful to the authorities and experts for their swift response and resolution of the incident.”

A North Wales Police said the package sent to the factory has been taken away to be analysed.

A force spokesman added: "Colleagues from the Royal Logistics Corp bomb disposal unit attended and examined the package to make sure it was safe to handle.

"The contents will be taken away for analysis and police will undertake an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"There are no wider concerns for public safety."


Wockhardt UK clinched a deal in August to help prepare the vaccine for distribution.

When the company's contract was announced, Ravi Limaye, managing director, said: "We are immensely proud to have been selected to partner with the UK government on this project.

"We have a sophisticated sterile manufacturing facility and a highly skilled workforce."

Bosses at the vaccine site said the factory was "operating as normal" despite being hit by floods from Storm Christoph last week.

Wockhardt, who produce the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said the factory was affected by "mild flooding" which triggered emergency protocols.

In a statement after the floods, the firm said: "All necessary actions were taken with no disruption to manufacturing. We would like to reassure everyone that the site is secure and operating as normal.”

PM Boris Johnson visited the site in November to inspect progress.

Indian drugmaker Wockhardt has been engaged to supply millions of doses of vaccines from its CP Pharmaceuticals site on Wrexham's industrial estate.

It carries out the “fill-and-finish” stage of the manufacturing process of AstraZeneca's Oxford-partnered Covid-19 shot, which involves dispensing bulk vaccine into vials ready for distribution.

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