The prime minister on Friday announced £46m of funding to help research into a “life changing and life saving” vaccine, as well as rapid diagnostic tests.
There is currently no vaccine available to protect people against Covid-19, but Johnson said he hoped one will be ready in about a year.
“It looks like there will a substantial period of disruption where we have to deal with this outbreak,” he said during a during a tour of a Bedfordshire laboratory.
England’s chief medical officer, professor Chris Whitty, has previously said the UK “will not have a vaccine available for the first wave” of a pandemic, but that it is still important to develop one for any future waves.
Downing Street said the UK’s investment into Covid-19 vaccine research is now worth £65m, with £91m in total for international work to stop the spread of the virus.
So far 116 people in the UK have been diagnosed with coronavirus and one person has died.
Yesterday an older patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, became the first person in the UK to die after being diagnosed.
Johnson said today: “Keeping the British people safe is my number one priority, and that’s why I’ve set out our four-part plan to contain, delay, mitigate and research coronavirus.
“We are ensuring the country is prepared for the current outbreak, guided by the science at every stage. But we also need to invest now in researching the vaccines that could help prevent future outbreaks.
“I’m very proud that UK experts – backed by government funding – are on the front line of global efforts to do just that.”
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said the government is working with supermarkets to ensure food supplies as the number of people self-isolating with coronavirus is expected to rise.
He sought to reassure the public following panic-buying in some areas, with supermarkets seeing their shelves cleared of essentials such as toilet roll and paracetamol.
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time, Hancock said there was “absolutely no need” for individual people “to go round buying more than they need.”