Plans in place to potentially make 30m coronavirus vaccines for UK public by September if trials successful

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan explains what happened in Sunday's Downing Street briefing

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has said the clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford is progressing well.

The business secretary said the Government had so far invested £47 million in vaccine programmes at Oxford and also Imperial College London, and announced a further £84 million in new funding “to help accelerate their work”.

He said: “This new money will help mass-produce the Oxford vaccine so that if current trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away.”

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca have finalised a “global licensing agreement” with Oxford University with Government support.

“This means that if the vaccine is successful AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for the UK as part of an agreement for over 100 million doses in total,” Mr Sharma said.

He said “the UK will be first to get access” but that the Government would also ensure that “we’re able to make the vaccine available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost”.

It would be a major achievement to create a vaccine in such a short period, with many experts anticipating that such work would take at least a year.

The need for a vaccine is obvious and effort is being made by various parties to make it happen.

“In order to definitively conquer this disease we need to find a safe, workable vaccine," Mr Sharma said.

“Last month I announced a new vaccine task force to co-ordinate the efforts of Government, academia and industry in the critical mission to find a vaccine.

“I’m very proud of how quickly our scientists and researchers have come together in their efforts developing a vaccine that will combat coronavirus.”

He added: “The first clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine is progressing well with all phase one participants having received their vaccine dose on schedule earlier this week.

“The speed at which Oxford University has designed and organised these complex trials is genuinely unprecedented.”

Mr Sharma said the Government has now committed more than a quarter of a billion pounds towards developing a vaccine in the UK.

But he warned that there are no certainties and it is possible trials may not lead to a successful coronavirus vaccine.

“So we also need to look at other drug treatments and therapeutics for those who get the virus,” he said at the Downing Street daily briefing.

He said the Government is working with scientists in the collaborative UK programme Accord to find a drug.

“Today I can report six drugs have entered initial live clinical trials,” he said.

“If positive results are seen they will advance to larger scale trials.”

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