Drugs giant AstraZeneca will make 30 million doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine by September if it works – and the UK will be the first to get it.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma this evening announced a global licensing deal had been signed between Oxford University and the pharma firm as part of a £130 million plan to vaccinate half the UK population.
The firm will make 100million doses of the vaccine over time if it proves to prevent the infection.
And in order to succeed as soon as possible, Mr Sharma announced a fresh £84 million in cash for the two universities to scale up production of their ground-breaking potential vaccines.
£65.5 million is earmarked for Oxford and £18.5 million for Imperial.
That’s on top of £47 million already handed out to scientists who are racing for a cure to the disease raging across the world.
This will mean the UK will be the first country to get access to the Oxford vaccine, should it be successful.
Oxford has finished its first phase of human trials this week with everyone planned having received their vaccine doses on schedule.
Imperial is on track to start their trial in June, with a second one by October.
Business Secretary Mr Sharma said today our scientists are at the forefront of vaccine development. This deal with AstraZeneca means that if the Oxford University vaccine works, people in the UK will get the first access to it, helping to protect thousands of lives.
The agreement will deliver 100 million doses in total, ensuring that in addition to supporting our own people, we are able to make the vaccines available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost.
The UK continues to lead the global response to find a vaccine, and the government is backing our scientists to do this as quickly as possible.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock added – Our injection of a further £84 million for the coronavirus vaccine is a great step forward in our national effort.
However, Boris Johnson has been stark with the public admitting we may not get a vaccine.
He’s said in the past – A mass vaccine or treatment may be more than a year away. Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, we may never find a vaccine.
However, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is working on a vaccine with a team at the university, is confident it will work and says it could be ready in just months.
As the nation faces the reality of living for months with coronavirus restrictions, a successful vaccine holds the key to the end of isolation measures.
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment available for coronavirus but doctors across the globe are testing current anti-viral drugs to see if they can beat coronavirus.
Today Mr Sharma revealed that six more drugs would go into tests to see if they can have an effect on coronavirus symptoms.
About 100 research groups are pursuing vaccines with nearly a dozen in early stages of human trials or poised to start.
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, for example, has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a vaccine through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.