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Coronavirus vaccine close to being developed for trials say scientists

PUBLISHED: 09:07 14 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:43 14 March 2020

A coronavirus unit installed at hospitals across the region.  Picture: Chris Bishop

A coronavirus unit installed at hospitals across the region. Picture: Chris Bishop

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A team of scientists have revealed a vaccine for the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus is close to being developed.

The Department of Health has revealed that, the number of positive cases in the UK now stands at 798, a rise of 208 in 24 hours.

As of 9am on Friday, 32,771 people had been tested, of which 31,173 were confirmed negative.

Two people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in the last 24-hours, taking the total to 10.

Now researchers, led by Mucosal Infection and Immunity head Dr Robin Shattock, have told national newspaper the Daily Express they have successfully trialled the vaccine in mice and are hopeful that it could be ready for human trials by June.

Senior researcher Dr Paul McKay of Imperial College London told the paper: 'I've got results from a month after I injected (the mice) and the vaccine works really, really well.'

The team are currently working with scientists in Paris to determine the vaccine's effectiveness in monkeys.

Dr McKay said they have applied for further funding from the Medical Research Council in order to conduct human clinical trials.

'If we get the funding for the human clinical trials, we will put it into people by June,' he said.

'If British scientists here develop a vaccine it would be great if the Government supported it.'

Should the human trials be successful, the team says they are hopeful the vaccine will be available for patients in a year.

As previously reported a virus expert working at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is working on creating a vaccine against coronavirus in pigs - which if it works, could possibly be used on humans.

Professor George Lomonossoff, who is an expert in viruses having worked for 40 years at the John Innes Centre, began his work studying plants.

But for the past few months he has been experimenting on a vaccine to prevent coronavirus in pigs. If it works - and produces antibodies that create an immunity against the virus - he thinks it could be developed for possible use in humans against Covid-19.

However, he said it will take time - he's six months away from animal trials and even if it works, believes it would take a year to 18 months to have a vaccine in place for humans.

Meanwhile. Norfolk is at a low risk of a coronavirus outbreak at the moment, accodring to Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health.

She said while fear around the virus was understandable, the county, along with the rest of the UK, was well-equipped to deal with any cases.

She said: 'We have a very robust public health system in the UK.

'We have good access to testing and policy in place to make sure staff are protected.

'In Norfolk, as well as the rest of the country, we are extremely well-prepared. We have had experience of dealing with issues like this from previous outbreaks, we have a good system which works from the core. We're in a strong a position as a country could be.'

READ MORE: Mass gatherings could be banned to fight virus

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