The United Kingdom will begin human trials for a candidate vaccine against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) on Thursday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced.
Hancock said the UK is "throwing everything" into efforts to develop a vaccine, led by researchers at Oxford University's Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.
In a press conference announcing the start of the trials, which has been in preparation for at least a week, Hancock said the government was backing the trials with £20 million.
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"We are throwing everything at it and we are doing everything we can to support these cutting-edge vaccines," Hancock said in a video statement posted on social media.
Researchers are aiming to have tested the vaccine, named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, on around 500 volunteers by mid-May, according to the BBC.
The team leading the clinical trials are aiming to recruit a total of 1,112 participants across in Oxford, Southhampton, London and Bristol.
Ten volunteers will be set apart and given two separate doses of the vaccine, while the remaining 1,102 will be split into two groups, only one of which will receive ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 doses, while the other group is given another vaccine for control.
In announcing the trials, the university's team said they aimed to have a vaccine ready for use by this autumn, with Hancock saying that the UK was working to increase production capabilities.
"We will invest in manufacturing capability to make it available for the British people as soon as humanly possible," he said, in order to boost the efforts of the researchers to accelerate the vaccine process into the clinical trials phase.
"It's pretty clear the world is going to need hundreds of millions of doses, ideally by the end of this year, to end this pandemic, to lead us out of lockdown," Prof Adrian Hill, head of the university's Jenner Institute, told the BBC.
The Brussels Times