The UK Government has signed off on a deal giving it early access to 90 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine if and when one becomes available.
The Government announced this morning that it had struck a deal with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech, Pfizer and Valneva, who are working on vaccines to protect against coronavirus.
This means the UK has now agreed three partnerships for potential vaccines currently under development, as well as one with AstraZeneca for a treatment containing Covid-19 neutralising antibodies for those who cannot be immunised, such as cancer patients.
Health workers and individuals who are at increased clinical risk from Covid-19 infection will be first in line to receive a vaccination should one become available, the Government said.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “This new partnership with some of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and vaccine companies will ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said last week that he was “expanding who can legally vaccinate to make sure the [it’s] not just GPs but also technicians, nurses and pharmacists,” adding that “pharmacists have a massive role to play” in any immunisation programme.
The announcement of the vaccine partnership came on the same day as the launch of the new NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry, which will allow members of the public to register their interest to participate in vaccine studies.
Matt Hancock said: “A safe and effective vaccine is our best hope of defeating coronavirus and returning to life as normal.
“We have some of our best scientists and researchers working on this, but members of the public have a vital role to play too. So 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.”