The government's decision to "mothball" a vaccine manufacturing centre has been described as a "mistake".

The £200 million Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre was set up in 2017 in Harwell, Oxfordshire, as a not-for-profit company.

Its purpose was to bring together vaccine research and manufacturing.

Later, in 2022, the centre was sold before its construction was completed to US-based company Catelant.

Critics were apprehensive about selling the institution to a profit-making firm.

Catelant later announced it was delaying the project, leading to fears about the UK’s future vaccine-manufacturing capabilities.

Former industry adviser at the UK’s vaccine taskforce, Ian McCubbin, said to the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee: "I think (mothballing) it probably was a mistake, but the reason I think it was sold was the facility had got bigger."

He added: "What do you do with a facility that’s expensive to run but you’re actually not doing anything (for) a pandemic?

"If that facility was in place, not only physically we’d be able to do more work, but it would have a nucleus around which other expertise could gather and I could not overestimate how important that is in a community to make things work."

He concluded: "So, from a straightforward pandemic preparedness point of view, that is a mistake."