The UK government has secured early access to 90 million doses of promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
Announced by Business Secretary Alok Sharma today, the government has agreed significant partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and vaccine companies BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneva that are developing innovative new vaccines to protect people against coronavirus. The government has also secured access to treatments containing COVID-19-neutralising antibodies from AstraZeneca to protect those who cannot receive vaccines such as cancer and immunocompromised patients.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“The hunt to find a vaccine is a truly global endeavour and we are doing everything we can to ensure the British public get access to a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.
“This new partnership with some of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and vaccine companies will ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk.
“The public can also play their part in vaccine research through the new NHS vaccine research register. By signing up and participating in important clinical studies, together we can speed up the search for a vaccine and end the pandemic sooner.
“Through its partnership with Valneva, which has a factory in Livingston, Scotland, the UK government is expected to contribute to UK clinical studies costs and is negotiating funding to expand Valneva’s Scottish facility. This increased manufacturing capacity could potentially supply up to 100 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally. This will create high-skilled jobs in the local area and contribute significantly to the local economy.”
Chair of the Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham said:
“The Vaccine Taskforce is investing in a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates to maximise the chances of finding a vaccine quickly that meets the UK’s rigorous regulatory and safety standards. The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving. But I urge against being complacent or over-optimistic. The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) head said:
“Thanks to COVID-19 patients’ willingness to take part in treatment studies, we’ve been able to identify treatments that work and ones that don’t, which has improved patient care world-wide. Now that there are several promising vaccines on the horizon, we need to call again on the generosity of the public to help find out which potential vaccines are the most effective. Using a new NHS website developed in partnership between the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and NHS Digital, people across the UK can register their interest to be approached to join a vaccine study. Please go to the website and consider volunteering.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“A safe and effective vaccine is our best hope of defeating coronavirus and returning to life as normal. We have some of our best scientists and researchers working on this, but members of the public have a vital role to play too. So I urge everyone who can to back the national effort and sign up to the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry to help find a vaccine as soon as possible.
“Every volunteer will be doing their bit towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19 that will have the potential to save millions of lives around the world and bring this pandemic to an end.
“Today’s announcement follows an existing global licensing agreement signed with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine for the UK public. AstraZeneca will work to produce 100 million doses for the UK in total.”
This circular is being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.