Hunt for coronavirus vaccine given boost by the launch of UK Government taskforce

The hunt for a coronavirus vaccine has been given a boost by the launch of a Government taskforce.

Led by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan van Tam, it will support efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine as soon as possible.

As well as providing industry and research institutions with the resources and support, the group will review regulations to allow quick and safe vaccine trials.

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It will also scale up manufacturing, so that when a vaccine becomes available, it can be produced quickly and in mass quantities.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma spoke during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Andrew Parsons/PA Wire

Twenty-one new research projects combating coronavirus will receive Government funding from a £14 million investment.

This follows the Government's £250 million pledge to develop a vaccine.

Representatives from Government, academia and industry will form the taskforce, including Government life sciences champion Sir John Bell, as well as AstraZeneca, and the Wellcome Trust.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who announced the taskforce at the daily Downing Street press conference, said: "UK scientists are working as fast as they can to find a vaccine that fights coronavirus, saving and protecting people's lives.

"We stand firmly behind them in their efforts.

"The vaccine taskforce is key to co-ordinating efforts to rapidly accelerate the development and manufacture of a potential new vaccine, so we can make sure it is widely available to patients as soon as possible."

The group will focus on five strands of activity including supporting the discovery of potential coronavirus vaccines and preparing the UK for clinical vaccine testing and manufacturing.

It is also working with the Bioindustry Association, which has set up an industry-led group, to accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing.


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