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Potential coronavirus vaccine will begin human trials from Thursday

PUBLISHED: 18:03 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 18:03 21 April 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

A potential coronavirus vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford will begin human trials before the end of the week, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary has announced fresh funding to help increase British work on finding a Covid-19 vaccine, as it was revealed a potential vaccine currently in development will be trialled on people from Thursday.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said: “In the long run, the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine.

“After all, this is a new disease, this is uncertain science but I’m certain we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.

“The UK is at the front of the global effort. We have put more money than any other country into a global search for a vaccine and, for all the efforts around the world, two of the leading vaccine developments are taking place here at home - at Oxford and Imperial.

“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them we will do everything in our power to support.”

The project at Imperial College London will receive £22.5m to support its phase two clinical trials and Oxford University will be granted £20m to fund its clinical trials.

Mr Hancock said: “I can announce 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 will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work, we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanely possible.”

Mr Hancock said the process for finding a vaccine would take “trial and error” but has told UK scientists leading the way he would “back them to the hilt and give them every resource they need” in order to succeed.

“After all, the upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it,” he said.


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