UK Government Signs Deals For 90m Extra Doses Of Coronavirus Vaccine

Business secretary Alok Sharma said the new agreements would “ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk”.

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The government has announced it has signed new deals which will provide more than 90m doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

In a statement from business secretary Alok Sharma, the government said it has secured an agreement for 30m doses of a vaccine being developed – and currently at phase two trials – by BioNTech and German firm Pfizer.

Sharma said the government has also done an in-principle deal done for 60 million doses of an antibody treatment that is being developed by France’s Valneva for vulnerable patients who cannot receive vaccines.

The partnerships mean England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could have access to enough doses to vaccinate and protect priority groups such as those at increased health risk and frontline workers.

Sharma said the new agreements would “ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk”.

However Kate Bingham, chair of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, warned that despite progress, there are still no guarantees that a successful vaccine will be found.

“We have to be very cautious because there has never been a vaccine against a coronavirus and there may never be one. What we have been tasked to do is to protect the UK population against Covid-19 through vaccination and do so as quickly as we can,” she told Sky News.

“And the announcements this morning show that the UK is absolutely at the forefront of global efforts to source and develop vaccines from across the world, across as range of different technology.”

The figure of 90m is in addition to the 100m doses of vaccine that are being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another at Imperial College London which started human trials in June.

Initial data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial – which is now in its third phase of human trials in Brazil – is due to be released on Wednesday, with high expectations over its efficacy.

A general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England, Saturday, July 18, 2020.
A general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England, Saturday, July 18, 2020.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

This comes after campaigners warned last week that AstraZeneca could price poorer countries out of a British coronavirus vaccine in the future, due to a loophole in the non-profit agreement it signed with Oxford University.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty encouraged people to take part in coronavirus vaccine trials, adding that the willingness of patients to take part has already led to improved care around the world.

Whitty said: “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.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock said every volunteer “will be doing their bit towards finding a vaccine for Covid-19 that will have the potential to save millions of lives around the world and bring this pandemic to an end”.

The human trial of the coronavirus vaccine started in May. The study was designed to assess whether healthy people can be protected from coronavirus with this new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

Up to 1,102 participants were recruited across multiple sites in Oxford, Southampton, London and Bristol.

The criteria was that volunteers must be aged between 18 and 55, in good health and not have tested positive for Covid-19.

A recent poll revealed that one third of Britons definitely will not or are unsure about whether they would take a vaccine for coronavirus.