Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray
The UK government has signed new deals which will provide more than 90 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Pharmaceutical companies - BioNTech and German firm Pfizer – are developing a vaccine and the government has secured an agreement for 30 million doses, Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed. The government has also done a deal for 60 million doses of an antibody treatment that is being developed by France firm Valneva.
The figure of 90 million is in addition to the 100 million doses of vaccine that are being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another at Imperial College London which started human trials in June. Oxford University will provide an update on its vaccine trial on Monday, in the medical journal The Lancet.
Vaccine expert, Professor Gordon Dougan said it was wise to hedge bets by looking at different approaches to the coronavirus vaccine.
But speaking on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is not "100% confident that we will get a vaccine this year or indeed next year is alas just an exaggeration - we're not there yet."
"There are about 100 different enquiries, different scientific ventures out in the field now, the UK has got some world leading scientists engaged in this, the Oxford programme where we have secured 100 million doses already," he added.
"What we're saying today is we are investing also in a couple of potential vaccines - one French, one German and 90 million doses."
The partnerships mean England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could have access to enough doses to vaccinate and protect priority groups such as those at increased health risk and frontline workers. Mr Sharma said the new agreements would “ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk”. He added: “The hunt to find a vaccine is a truly global endeavour and we are doing everything we can to ensure the British public get access to a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.”
Initial data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial – which is now in its third phase of human trials in Brazil – is due to be released on Wednesday, with high expectations over its efficacy.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty encouraged people to take part in coronavirus vaccine trials, adding that the willingness of patients to take part has already led to improved care around the world. Professor Whitty said: "Now that there are several promising vaccines on the horizon, we need to call again on the generosity of the public to help find out which potential vaccines are the most effective."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said every volunteer "will be doing their bit towards finding a vaccine for Covid-19 that will have the potential to save millions of lives around the world and bring this pandemic to an end".