The UK government has confirmed that trials on a coronavirus vaccine will start this Thursday (23 April).
During today’s daily coronavirus briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was pumping millions into developing a vaccine and was making ‘rapid’ progress.
Mr Hancock told the briefing that two of the leading efforts in the world to find a vaccine for the deadly disease were being carried out in the UK and has “put more money than any other country on a vaccine search”.
He revealed that £22 million was being given to Imperial College London to support its phase two trials and a further £20m going to fund a project at Oxford.
Mr Hancock said: “The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is huge, which is why I’m throwing everything at it.
“I can announce the fact that the vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled, in people, from this Thursday.
“In normal times, reaching this stage would take years, and I’m very proud of the work taken so far. At the same time, we’ll invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely works, then we can make it available to the British people as soon as humanly possible.”
Health officials confirmed today that a further 823 people had tragically died as a result of Covid-19, bringing the total number of UK deaths to 17,337.
Mr Hancock was joined at today’s briefing by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Van-Tam, who discussed the trends regarding infection rates.
He said that the numbers of new cases “remains high” and that experts have not yet witnessed any “enormous downturn”, which suggests that the country is very much still in a “situation of danger”.
In terms of how well equipped those in the NHS have been during the pandemic, Mr Hancock said everything was being done to make sure frontline workers and patients were well-protected and receiving the best possible care.
He said the government had so far received some 8,331 offers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that it was “investigating every one”, however, he admitted that “not everyone who approaches us can deliver on their offers in scale”.
The Health Secretary also told the briefing that the government was working with 159 UK manufacturers to provide the required numbers of PPE.
“I am determined to get people the PPE they need,” he said.