£84m of funding has been given to help the UK vaccine trial, it has been confirmed at today’s Downing Street press conference.
The news comes as the UK announced a further 170 deaths of people with the virus, the lowest since the day after lockdown began, suggesting the tide is turning.
Number 10 Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has finalised a “global licensing agreement” with Oxford University with the Government’s support.
The 84 million pound funding was in addition to the £47 million which has already been invested into vaccine development at Oxford University and Imperial.
“This new money will help mass-produce the Oxford vaccine so that if current trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away,” he told today’s daily press briefing.
Mr Sharma added that the “UK will be the first to get access” to these vaccines – although he said that they would also be made available to developing countries at the “lowest possible cost”.
But while pointing out the government had now committed more than a quarter of a billion pounds towards developing a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, Mr Sharma warned there was no certainty one would ever be found.
Mr Sharma said: “In order to definitively conquer this disease we need to find a safe, workable vaccine.
“Last month I announced a new vaccine task force to co-ordinate the efforts of Government, academia and industry in the critical mission to find a vaccine.
“I’m very proud of how quickly our scientists and researchers have come together in their efforts developing a vaccine that will combat coronavirus.”
The news of the vaccine comes today as the death toll has risen to 34,636 with a further 170 pronounced dead in England, Wales and Scotland.
Northern Ireland is exempt from today’s figures due to a technical issue.