Human trials testing for a potential vaccine for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) will commence in the United Kingdom on Thursday.
Matt Hancock, the UK Secretary of Health, disclosed this while providing an update on the country’s handling of the pandemic on Tuesday.
The potential vaccine was developed by researchers from Oxford University led by Professor Sarah Gilbert.
According to Hancock, the Boris Johnson-led government is “throwing everything” at the search for a vaccine as it remains the only way to defeat the virus.
He said: “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.
In the long run the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine.
“This is a new disease, this is uncertain science, but I’m certain that we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.
“The UK is at the forefront of the global effort. We’ve put more money than any other country 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.”
The UK Health Secretary announced that the government will provide £20 million to the Oxford team to help fund its clinical trials, with a further £22.5 million going to researchers at Imperial College London.
He, however, sounded a note of caution, saying that it could be a matter of “trial and error”.
“Nothing about this process is certain. Vaccine development is a matter of trial and error and trial again. That’s the nature of how vaccines are developed,” he said.
Despite a normal development time of 18 months or more for a vaccine, the Oxford researchers believe large-scale production could be underway as early as September, about nine months after the Coronavirus was first spotted in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The UK’s coronavirus death toll in hospitals rose to 17,337, with a further 828 COVID-19 patient fatalities reported as of Tuesday.