The United Kingdom Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced that, the UK will begin clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on patients from Thursday, April 23.
The vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is being developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Hancock said the government was “throwing everything” at the vaccine drive.
He announced a provision of £20 million had been made for the Oxford team to help fund the clinical trials.
Hancock said an additional £22.5 million in funding will be made available for researchers at Imperial College, London.
He said the government will “back them to the hilt and give them every resource they need to get them the best possible chance of success as soon as possible”.
“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,” he said.
“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 at home, at Oxford and Imperial.
“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them that we’ll do everything we can to support them.
“And today making available 20 million pounds to the oxford team to fund their clinical trials. The team has accelerated its process working, with the regulator of the MHRA ((Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency),who have been absolutely brilliant.
“As a result, I can announce that the vaccine from the oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday.
“In normal time, reaching this stage takes years and I am very proud of the work taken so far.
“At the same time, we will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely works then we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanly possible.”
He, however, added that nothing about “this process is certain”.
“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,” he said
He said on the most recent figure, 535,342 tests have now been carried out in the UK, adding that of this figure, 129,044 people have tested positive.
He said the number of patients with COVID-19 symptoms is now down to 17681, adding that 17,366 people have died in hospitals.
Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford, had earlier said the inoculation being developed by her team could be ready for use as early as September.
There is still no known vaccine for COVID-19.