Government speeds up efforts to find a vaccine

By Simon Gentry, Managing Partner

Alok Sharma MP, the Business Secretary, lead today’s Government press conference which focused on the effort to find and manufacture a vaccine to prevent future epidemics. He announced that the Government has set up a vaccine task force to co-ordinate the vaccine effort. This brings together the government, academia and the private sector. 

It will be led by Patrick Vallance and Jonathan Van Tam and will be reporting to Matt Hancock and Alok Sharma.  The task force will work to facilitate trials and rapidly scale up manufacturing when a working vaccine is identified. A major vaccine manufacturing facility will be built in Harwell, Oxfordshire.  He reminded everyone that creating a new vaccine is a huge exercise and the government is committed to helping British scientists win the battle against this invisible killer.

He also announced that the government will be investing £14 million in a further 21 research projects.  This brings the total number of government-funded research projects to 27. 

Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser, said the number of cases is declining in London and is flat in other regions.  Turning to possible treatments, as of this afternoon 5,500 people are now in clinical trials of existing medicines, helping the search for a drug that can treat Covid19.

Yvonne Doyle, the medical director and director of health protection for Public Health England, said that there is now more testing capacity than is being used and it is now being opened up to social care workers.