AUSTIN (AP) — State leaders will announce the launch of a $91 million vaccine manufacturing center at Texas A&M University that will create thousands of jobs while protecting the country against future biological threats and influenza pandemics.
Gov. Rick Perry, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp and others are gathering Tuesday morning at the Capitol to discuss the collaboration involving A&M, global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and the federal government.
Details of the manufacturing center were first released in July but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently gave federal approval to establish the center, which will be built in College Station.
State officials say the facility will anchor a larger development and manufacturing complex that's expected to generate $41 billion in expenditures in the state over the next 25 years.
In-Depth: Green vaccines could stop a 'Contagion'
The Black Death epidemic -- also called bubonic plague -- killed 25 million people in Europe in just five years in the 14th century, while the Spanish Flu is blamed for killing as many as 100 million people in the early 1900s.
And, yes, it could happen again.
"We have major problems with vaccine production and manufacturing in our country," said Dr. Brett Giror, the vice chancellor of Strategic Initiatives at Texas A&M University.
"Vaccines we make are safe and effective, but they take too long to make and billions of dollars to manufacture."
The 2009 swine flu scare that shut down schools and businesses revealed some shortcomings in the way vaccines are produced and distributed.
That is a gap Texas A&M is trying to help close with the Blue Angel program, a $65 million venture that started in February 2010.
The goal is to find a quicker, cheaper, more efficient way to make vaccines by turning over new leaves -- literally.
Unlike the vaccines derived from eggs, the Blue Angel program hopes to find new hope by going green.
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