UK secures early access to promising coronavirus vaccine candidates

The UK government has secured early access to 90 million doses of promising early Covid-19 vaccine candidates, with more in the pipeline as the country looks to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines to protect the UK from coronavirus.

Efforts have also been successful in securing treatments containing Covid-19- neutralising antibodies to protect those who cannot receive vaccines, such as cancer and immunocompromised patients.

The announcement of these partnerships, made by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, would provide the UK with the opportunity to access enough doses to vaccinate and protect priority groups identified, such as frontline health and social care workers and those at increased health risk, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government has also launched the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry to aid efforts in getting access to a safe and effective vaccine. The new website will enable people in the UK to volunteer for future vaccine studies more easily, allowing members of the public to register their interest and be contacted to participate in clinical studies.

In order to enable large-scale vaccine studies across the UK, the government is aiming to recruit 500,000 by October – a target considered essential in their strategy in quickly combatting coronavirus and securing an effective, viable vaccine. Clinical studies with hundreds of thousands of volunteers will help scientists and researchers better understand the effectiveness of each vaccine candidate and will considerably speed up efforts to discover a safe and workable vaccine.

Business Secretary 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.”

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and NIHR Head, added: “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.”

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