Human trials for Covid-19 vaccine to start on Thursday, government confirms

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronav

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine will start this week as the number of deaths related to the virus passed 17,000 in the UK.

At the government’s daily press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the most recent death toll from the virus before announcing a fresh multi-million pound boost for two leading vaccine programmes.

The West Suffolk MP made the announcement as it was revealed that a further five people had died after testing positive for the virus in Suffolk and north Essex.

It was confirmed that four people died at Ipswich Hospital and one at Colchester Hospital. They were among 828 death that were confirmed within the NHS in the past 24 hours.

Speaking at a press briefing, Mr Hancock said: “In the long run, the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine.

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“After all, this is a new disease, this is uncertain science but I’m certain we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.

“The UK is at the front of the global effort.

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“We have put more money than any other country into a global search for a vaccine and, for all the efforts around the world, two of the leading vaccine developments are taking place here at home - at Oxford and Imperial.

“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them we will do everything in our power to support.”

Human trials on a coronavirus vaccine are set to start Picture: GETTY IMAGES/PURESTOCK

Human trials on a coronavirus vaccine are set to start Picture: GETTY IMAGES/PURESTOCK - Credit: Getty Images/Purestock

The project at Imperial College London will receive £22.5 million to support its phase two clinical trials and Oxford University will be granted £20 million to fund its clinical trials.

Mr Hancock said the process for finding a vaccine would take “trial and error” but he has told UK scientists leading the search he would “back them to the hilt and give them every resource they need” in order to succeed.

“After all, the upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it,” said Mr Hancock.

In a major step in the production process, The health secretary said vaccine trials for Covid-19 would be available for British people to take part in this week.

“I can announce that the vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday,” he said.

“In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far.

“At the same time, we will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work, we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanely possible.”

The news came as a boost for those is Suffolk and north Essex on the day it was announced that in total, more than 200 people have died at Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals.

In a statement addressing today’s announcement, Nick Hulme, chief executive for East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said: “We can confirm that four patients, three in their 80s and one in their 70s all with underlying health conditions, have sadly passed away at Ipswich Hospital.

“One patient in their 80sw with underlying health conditions, has sadly passed away at Colchester Hospital. They had all tested positive for Covid-19.

“Our thoughts and condolences remain with the patients’ families and loved ones at this difficult time.”

The new figures only show the number of deaths in Hospitals in our region and do not count those who die in care homes or in the community after testing positive for Covid-19.

Suffolk County Council have said they know of 50 cases of the virus in care homes and so far 23 residents have died in homes across Suffolk.

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