UK sets up new Vaccine Taskforce as COVID-19 death toll hits 14,576
The UK has set up a taskforce to urgently find a coronavirus vaccine and prepare the industry to manufacture it at scale once it is developed, as 847 fresh death were reported due to the COVID-19, taking the death toll in the country to 14,576.
Addressing the daily Downing Street briefing, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said on Friday the new Vaccine Taskforce, led by the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, is a collaboration between business and industry and academia.
It is aimed at coordinating efforts to discover a vaccine, funnel resources and support to industry and research institutions and review regulations to remove any blocks in scaling it up, he said.
"We cannot put a date on when we will get a vaccine. But we live in a country with a rich history of pioneering science, and with the government backing our scientists, we have the best chance to do this as quickly as possible," said the Indian-origin Cabinet minister.
Sharma also announced 21 new research projects to receive funds from a 14 million pounds government pot for the development of treatments and vaccines.
"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 coordinating 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," he said.
Under details of some of the scientific work ongoing to combat the spread of the deadly virus, one new project is led by the University of Oxford to trial an anti-malarial drug, believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, to determine whether it could diminish the effects of COVID-19 on people in high risk groups.
General Practitioner (GP) surgeries across the UK have been invited to take part in the groundbreaking trial, to ascertain whether it could reduce the need for affected patients to go to hospital and speed up their recovery.
Other projects receiving vital government funding under the new taskforce include an Imperial College London initiative testing a vaccine against coronavirus that aims for the body to produce more protective antibodies and Public Health England developing a new antibody that could offer protection against infection and disease progression of coronavirus.
Public Health England is also studying how COVID-19 can be transmitted from person-to-person by determining how long it can survive in the air and on different materials found in hospitals and households like fabric, plastics, metals and ceramics.