Man, 53, charged after suspicious package sent to coronavirus vaccine factory

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2 min read
Police officers at Wrexham Industrial Estate near the British pharmaceutical manufacturing company Wockhardt in Wrexham, north Wales, Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021. Wockhardt UK, an arm of the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company that is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in north Wales, said it notified authorities after receiving a suspect package on Wednesday morning. (Eleanor Barlow/PA via AP)
Police officers at Wrexham Industrial Estate on Wednesday (AP)

A 53-year-old man has been charged after a suspicious package was sent to a COVID-19 vaccine production plant in north Wales.

Anthony Collins was arrested on Thursday after a bomb scare led to a partial evacuation at the factory in Wrexham on Wednesday.

He was detained at his home in Chatham and has since been charged with dispatching an article by post with the intention of inducing the belief it is likely to explode or ignite.

Police confirmed the item sent to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine fill-and-finish site was not a viable device.

Collins has been remanded in custody to attend Medway Magistrates’ Court on 30 January.

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Kent Police said in a statement: “Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate have charged a man after a suspicious package was sent to a Covid-19 vaccine production plant in north Wales.

“The item, which was not a viable device, is reported to have been received at the facility, in Wrexham, on the morning of Wednesday 27 January 2021.

“Anthony Collins was arrested by Kent Police officers in Chatham the following morning.

“The 53-year-old, of Chatham Hill, Chatham, has since been charged with dispatching an article by post with the intention of inducing the belief it is likely to explode or ignite.

“He has been remanded in custody to attend Medway Magistrates’ Court on Saturday 30 January 2021.”

Production had to be stopped for hours on Wednesday mid-morning after all staff were evacuated from the Wockhardt site on the Wrexham Industrial Estate 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.”

A police cordon at Wrexham Industrial Estate near the British pharmaceutical manufacturing company Wockhardt in Wrexham, north Wales, Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021. Wockhardt UK, an arm of the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company that is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in north Wales, said it notified authorities after receiving a suspect package on Wednesday morning. (Eleanor Barlow/PA via AP)
The factory was partially evacuated (AP)

The spokeswoman 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”.

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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.