UK health secretary Matt Hancock.
Human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK will begin on Thursday according to UK health secretary Matt Hancock.
The announcement was made at the daily Downing Street briefing today, after researchers at Oxford University accelerated their trial schedule.
Mr Hancock warned that developing a vaccine was a process based on “trial and error” and “uncertain science” but vowed to “throw everything at it.”
He is making £20 million available to the Oxford project to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and a further £23.5 million to another project at Imperial College London.
He reported that he has told the two scientists leading the project that the government is “going to back them to the hilt and give them every resource that they need to get the best possible chance of success as soon as possible.”
He said: “The UK is at the forefront of the global effort. We put more money than any other into the 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 College London.
“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them that we will do everything in our power to support them.
“First, I am today making £22.5 million available to the Imperial project to support their Phase 2 clinical trials which are going to assess a sample of several thousand and for them to begin the work subsequently on a very large Phase 3 trial.
“Second, today I am making £20 million available for the Oxford team to fund their clinical trials. The team has accelerated that trials process, working with the regulator, who have been absolutely brilliant, and as a result 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 done so far.
“At the same time we’ll invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work, then we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanly possible.
“Nothing about this process is certain, vaccine development is a process of trial and error and trial again – that’s the nature of how vaccines are developed – but I told Sarah Gilbert and Robin Shattock, two of our most inspiring scientists, that we are going to back them to the hilt and give them every resource that they need to get the best possible chance of success as soon as possible.
“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.”
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