The Government has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer, which is currently in phase 2 trials, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported this morning.
The second deal is for 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by French company Valneva, with an option to acquire 40 million more doses if the vaccine is successful.
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’.
The 90 million doses are in addition to the 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another at Imperial College London which started human trials in June.
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If the vaccines prove successful, the agreements would mean the UK would have enough doses to vaccinate high priority groups including those at risk of death or complications from Covid-19, and health and social care workers.
Company Valneva is developing an inactivated virus vaccine and the Government is expected to contribute to the cost of clinical trials, as one of its factories is in Livingston, Scotland.
Funding is also being negotiated to expand the facility to produce up to 100 million doses.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘Britain has now secured early access to 90 million potential coronavirus vaccine doses. I want to thank all involved who’ve achieved this.
‘Members of the public have a vital role to play. I urge everyone who can to back the national effort and sign up to the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry to help find a vaccine as soon as possible.’
Chairperson of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, warned: ‘The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving.
‘But I urge against being complacent or over optimistic. The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.’
It comes after it was announced last week that human trials of a new antibody treatment are starting in the UK in preparation for a second wave of coronavirus.
British drugmaker AstraZeneca plans to test an ‘infusion of antibodies’ on 30 people next month in hopes it will protect the old and vulnerable from the disease.
The treatment, described by Government scientists as ‘very exciting’, is designed for people who conventional vaccines don’t work for with very weak immune systems.
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