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(Reuters) – AstraZeneca plans to invest 650 million pounds ($826.80 million) in Britain to boost research, development and manufacturing of vaccines, the government announced on Wednesday as part of Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget.

AstraZeneca’s planned investment includes 450 million pounds to research, develop and manufacture vaccines at its manufacturing site in Speke, Liverpool, and another 200 million pounds to expand its existing presence in Cambridge, where its global headquarters are located.

“AstraZeneca’s planned investment would enhance the UK’s pandemic preparedness and demonstrates our ongoing confidence in UK life sciences,” the drugmaker’s chief Pascal Soriot said in a statement.

The investment is a step change after Soriot shifted a planned new manufacturing plant to Ireland last year, saying that Britain’s business climate had deterred biopharma firms from investing in the country.

“AstraZeneca’s investment plans are a vote of confidence,” Hunt said.

Britain, in December 2020, was the first country to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

($1 = 0.7862 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)

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