Potential Covid-19 vaccine will be tested on people for the first time this week, Matt Hancock says

A potential Covid-19 vaccine will be tested on people for the first time this week, it has been revealed.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made the revelation as he announced further funding for trials of two leading vaccine projects in the UK.

He said two projects based at Oxford University and Imperial College London were working on a possible vaccination jab to protect people from the virus.

And speaking at today's daily Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock said both were making "rapid progress."

To help with this, he said Imperial College will receive £22.5 million to support its phase two clinical trials and Oxford will be granted £20 million to fund its clinical trials.

The Oxford project had in conjunction with the regulator "accelerated" the trials process and, as a result, the possible vaccine would be trailed in people from this Thursday, he said.

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The government was also investing in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work they can make it available to the British people "as soon as humanely possible", he added.

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

"In the long run the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine," Mr Hancock said.

"This is a new disease. This is uncertain science but I am certain we will throw everything we've got at developing a vaccine.

"The UK is at the forefront of the global effort.

"We have put more money than any other country in the global search for a vacccine.

"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 them.

"In normal times reaching this stage would take years and I am very proud of the work taken so far."

He later added: "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."

On Sunday, Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University said of their project: "The prospects are very good, but it is clearly not completely certain."

She added they had already been given permission to recruit volunteers, take blood tests, explain the process and check their health status.

She said there were many crucial stages to the vaccine development.

These start with immunising healthy 18 to 55-year-olds, before moving into older age groups, looking at the safety and immune response to the vaccine.

"That's important because it's the older population that we really need to protect with the vaccine," she said.


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