The United Kingdom (UK) will today [April 23] begin the first phase of their human trials for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed at the University of Oxford.

Health secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement at a press conference at Downing Street. He stated that the British government has provided £20-million towards the clinical trials, and a further £22.5-million towards researchers at Imperial College London, where another vaccine is in development. The government will also heavily invest in manufacturing capability so that the vaccine, when ready, can be produced as quickly as possible to get out to the public.

“In the long run, the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine,” Hancock said during the conference. “The UK is at the front of the global effort. We have put more money than any other country into a global search for a vaccine and, for all the efforts around the world, two of the leading vaccine developments are taking place here at home.”

The trails are led by Professor Sarah Gilbert. Healthy adults between 18 and 55 have already been recruited to participate.

While vaccines typically take 18 months of development, the team believe that, depending on the success of the trials, the vaccine could be ready for large-scale production as soon as September. This breakthrough could help to bring an end to the pandemic that has already claimed 184 280 lives worldwide and caused devastating damage to economies, families and livelihoods across the globe.

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