25 July 2020
The UK has secured early access to 90 million ‘promising’ coronavirus vaccine candidates according to an announcement made by Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
The vaccines are being developed by BioNTech, Pfizer, and Valneva, all of which are in partnership with the government. If successful, this agreement could provide enough vaccines to protect priority groups, such as frontline workers and those facing the most risk due to illnesses.
According to Sharma, the partnership “will ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk.”
The partnership is part of the nation’s strategy of establishing a portfolio of promising candidates to increase the odds of swiftly identifying an effective vaccine. The government has also secured AstraZeneca treatments with COVID-19 neutralising antibodies for those unable to receive the vaccines.
Chair of the vaccine taskforce – the group charged with creating the portfolio of vaccine candidates – Kate Bingham said that the number of promising candidates showed “the unprecedented pace at which we are moving.”
However, she warns against being overly optimistic, adding, “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.”
UK residents are also being encouraged to sign up for the newly launched NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry to volunteer for future studies and aid in speeding up vaccine research and development. The intended target is to reach 500,000 volunteers by October.