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‘We may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine,’ UK minister admits

‘We may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine,’ UK minister admits

The UK must accept the possibility that a successful Covid-19 vaccine may never materialise, the business secretary has warned. reports that during today’s daily No 10 press briefing, Alok Sharma said that in order to ‘definitively conquer this disease, we need to find a safe, workable vaccine’.
He announced that the Government has pledged another £84 million to continue funding research at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
If Oxford’s vaccine is found to be successful, Britons will be the ‘first to get access’, he added.
However, Mr Sharma warned that despite best efforts, ‘it is possible that we may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine’ and scientists must also look for alternative treatments that can prevent patients from developing a severe illness, to avoid more deaths.
Mr Sharma said: ‘In total, the government has now committed over a quarter of a billion pounds towards developing a vaccine in the UK.
‘But there are no certainties. In spite of the tireless efforts of our scientists, it is possible that we may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine.
‘So we also need to look at other drug treatments and therapeutics for those who get the virus…
‘While there are currently no drugs in the world that have been clinically proven to treat coronavirus, the government is working with our scientists and medical experts to identify promising candidates.’
Six drugs have now entered initial live clinical trials, he added, and if they show positive results they will move onto larger scale trials.
Mr Sharma praised the nation’s scientists who are managing to condense work that ‘would usually take years, into months and even weeks’, while Oxford and Imperial are considered ‘two of the world’s frontrunners’ in developing a vaccine.
All Phase 1 participants in Oxford’s first clinical trial received their vaccine dose earlier this week and are now being closely monitored.
The latest Government funding will help mass-produce Oxford’s vaccine, he said, meaning dosages will be available to start vaccinating the UK population ‘straight away’ if the trials are successful.
Oxford University has now signed a global licensing agreement with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the commercialisation and manufacturing of its vaccine.
‘This means that if the vaccine is successful, AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for the UK as part of an agreement to deliver over 100 million doses in total,’ said the business secretary.
‘The UK will be first to get access and we can also ensure that in addition to supporting people here in the UK, we are able to make the vaccine available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost.’
Imperial College will also be looking to move into clinical trials on their vaccine by mid June with larger scale trials planned in October.
The Government has also pledged £93 million to bring forward the opening of a research centre, in Harwell, Oxfordshire, so it can be opened in summer 2021 – a year ahead of schedule.
The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is currently under construction, will be key in rolling out a vaccine on a large scale to the nation.
During the press briefing Mr Sharma said that UK will soon be able to move to level three of lockdown in ‘careful steps’.
Alert levels are based on the R value and number of coronavirus cases in the UK, meaning the higher the level, the stricter the lockdown measures need to be.
He went on to say that, thanks to the public following social distancing rules, the UK will soon be moving forward.
Mr Sharma said: ‘Throughout the period of lockdown we have been at Level four. ‘Thanks to you, people across the country, we have collectively helped to bring the R level down. We are now in a position to begin moving to level 3, in careful steps.
‘We have set out the first of three steps we will take to carefully modify the measures, gradually ease the restrictions and begin to allow people to return to their usual way of life while avoiding a disastrous second peak that overwhelms the NHS.’

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