Man arrested after bomb scare stopped vaccine production at Wrexham factory

Police cordons on Abbey Road outside the Wrexham Industrial Estate near the Global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Wockhardt site where coronavirus vaccines are manufactured after a suspect package was found. Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021.
Police cordons on Abbey Road outside the Wrexham Industrial Estate. (PA)

Police have detained a man after a suspicious package was sent to a COVID-19 vaccine production plant in north Wales.

The suspicious package is reported to have been received at the facility in Wrexham on the morning of Wednesday 27 January 2021.

As part of ongoing enquiries, which are being carried out by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, pre-planned warrants took place at addresses in Luton Road and Chatham Hill, Chatham, Kent, on Thursday morning.

A 53-year-old man from Chatham has been arrested on suspicion of sending the packages and remains in custody as enquiries continue.

Production had to be stopped for hours on Wednesday mid-morning after all staff were evacuated from the Wockhardt site, which employs around 400 people.

Police officers and a bomb disposal unit were called to the scene.

Shortly before 5pm, a Wockhardt spokeswoman said that while manufacturing had been “temporarily paused”, staff were being allowed back into the facility after the package was “made safe”.

She added: “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.”

She said she could not give information on quantities of vaccine on site but added that production “had been proceeding at pace to meet the government contract for 100 million vaccine doses”.

North Wales Police said a team from the Royal Logistics Corp “attended and examined the package to make sure it was safe to handle” and added that the contents would be taken away for analysis and an investigation would continue into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company provides fill-and-finish services for the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – the final stage of putting the vaccine into vials.

There is no evidence to suggest there is an ongoing threat.