Trials on humans of a possible coronavirus vaccine to the COVID-19 illness developed at Oxford University will start on Thursday, the U.K.'s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday, reports the Independent.
UK starts human coronavirus vaccine trials on Thursday
One member of the Oxford team said that if human trials are successful, millions of vaccine doses will be distributed for use by the Fall of this year — representing a breakthrough that could mean the start of the global community's slow emergence from the oppressive rule of the COVID-19 outbreak which has as of writing claimed 175,000 lives and caused seemingly unending economic devastation.
At the daily press conference — which happens at 10 Downing street — Mr. Hancock said the U.K. government was "throwing everything" at the search for a viable vaccine, and added that he was granting £20 million to the Oxford team to assist their clinical trials, with another £22.5 million directed toward researchers at Imperial College London.
Check out the vaccine announcement provided by the BBC, below.
UPDATE April 21, 2:50 PM EDT: UK's coronavirus vaccine development and manufacturing at light-speed
The development time for a vaccine is normally 18 months to a year, but despite this the team of researchers led by Oxford vaccinology professor Sarah Gilbert believe massive production might begin this September — roughly nine months after the COVID-19 illness debuted in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Mr. Hancock added that the U.K. government will immediately invest in manufacturing capability, hedging the national bet for both Oxford and Imperial's vaccines' success. If either work, it will be made available to the U.K. public "as early as humanly possible," said Hancock, reports the Independent.
UPDATE April 21, 4:00 PM EDT: UK government stresses need for PPE gear
During the Downing Street briefing, Hancock also said the U.K. government is in talks with thousands of suppliers of protective gear for the NHS — currently suffering from a PPE shortage — but not all suppliers could deliver, reports the BBC.
The Labour party of the U.K. said there exists a "gap" between government words and reality. Meanwhile, the U.K. has confirmed an additional 823 coronavirus deaths in hospitals throughout the country — which brings the county's tally up to 17,337.
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