latest health care news

03.02.20

£20m for combating coronavirus and other infectious diseases

Today (Feb 3) the Government has pledged £20m to advance new vaccines to combat the world’s deadliest diseases, among concerns over the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock visited Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory last week, where his announcement followed that the UK will increase efforts to fund revolutionary research into vaccines, diagnostics and cures to fight against the threat of future viruses.

The new funding will support work developing new vaccines for epidemics, including their three new programmes to develop vaccines against the coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. These projects aim to advance 2019-nCoV vaccines candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible.

The £20m in new funding will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which was founded in response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines are our best defence against a host of deadly diseases, including coronavirus. The UK is a hub of world-leading and pioneering research, and it is vital that we lead the way in developing new vaccines to target global threats with scientists from across the world.

The £20 million announced today will help our globally recognised vaccine development capabilities continue to develop new defences against emerging diseases including coronavirus. It’s paramount we invest in vital research about infectious diseases, keeping the UK at the forefront of modern-day science so we can share this knowledge globally

CEO of CEPI, Dr Richard Hatchett said: “CEPI welcomes the UK’s continued support and funding for our vital work, which comes at a crucial moment as the world races to respond to the emergence of a novel coronavirus. The rapid global spread and unique epidemiological characteristics of the virus are deeply concerning.

“Our hope is that, with our partners, we can get an investigational vaccine from gene sequencing of the pathogen through to clinical testing in 16 weeks. The earliest stage of clinical trials (Phase I), to establish the safety of investigational vaccines, would take around two to four months.

“This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the of field vaccine development. It is important to remember that even if we are successful - and there can be no guarantee - there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available.”

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