Coronavirus: Global alliance of scientists hope to create vaccine in record timeRuth Mabhiza
Coronavirus: Global alliance of scientists hope to create vaccine in record time
‘This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development’
A vaccine against coronavirus could be being tested within months ( Getty )
Scientists are hoping to develop a potential vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus within 16 weeks, ready for clinical trials that would last four months.
The head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said the rapid development would be unprecedented in vaccine history.
CEPI, a public-private partnership launched in 2017 to develop new vaccines to stop future epidemics, is being given £20m by the UK government to help fund the efforts as the UK and countries around the world try to prevent the coronavirus spreading further.
It has already infected more than 14,000 people around the world, including two people in the UK, and more than 300 people have died.
CEPI was originally created in response to the west Africa Ebola virus outbreak.
Dr Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI, said the money came at a “crucial moment as the world races to respond to the emergence of a novel coronavirus. The rapid global spread and unique epidemiological characteristics of the virus are deeply concerning.”
He added: “Our hope is that, with our partners, we can get an investigational vaccine from gene sequencing of the pathogen through to clinical testing in 16 weeks. The earliest stage of clinical trials, to establish the safety of investigational vaccines, would take around two to four months.
This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development. It is important to remember that even if we are successful – and there can be no guarantee – there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available.”
Mr Hancock said: “Vaccines are our best defence against a host of deadly diseases, including coronavirus.
“The £20m announced today will help our globally recognised vaccine development capabilities continue to develop new defences against emerging diseases including coronavirus. It’s paramount we invest in vital research about infectious diseases, keeping the UK at the forefront of modern-day science so we can share this knowledge globally.”
The government is also in talks between the National Institute for Health Research and the UK Research and Innovation quango to run a rapid research call to support the global response to the coronavirus.
Last week the government announced a £58.7m funding boost for a separate research project to protect the health of the nation from threats like antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases.
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