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Ministers strike two more coronavirus vaccine deals as public urged to sign up for clinical trials

A new online service being launched on Monday will see members of the public asked to register their interest in clinical studies. (Image: PA)

3 min read

Britain has secured early access to 90 million potential coronavirus vaccine doses, the Government has announced, amid a fresh call for the public to sign up for clinical trials.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma on Monday confirmed that the UK had agreed new partnerships with pharmaceutical firms BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneza, which are both working on separate potential vaccines for coronavirus.

The tie-ups could see England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland given access to enough doses to protect priority groups from the disease, with frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk of Covid-19 expected to be covered by the agreement.

The move means Britain now has access to three potential coronavirus vaccines currently under development.

Ministers are also launching a new Covid-19 vaccine research registry, which will allow people in the UK to volunteer for future vaccine studies.

Mr Sharma said: “The hunt to find a vaccine is a truly global endeavour and we are doing everything we can to ensure the British public get access to a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.”

The Cabinet minister added: “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.
“The public can also play their part in vaccine research through the new NHS vaccine research register. By signing up and participating in important clinical studies, together we can speed up the search for a vaccine and end the pandemic sooner.”


The latest chapter in the UK’s coronavirus “road-map” plan for a return to normal life, published on Friday, makes clear that there is “no guarantee” a successful Covid-19 vaccine will ever be found, with the document warning that any effective doses “may be at least 12 months away“.

The Government is therefore seeking to boost a series of trials underway across the country, and has already begun work to set up a dedicated ‘Vaccine Manufacturing Centre’ in Oxford.

The UK’s new tie-up with the Scottish-based pharmaceutical company Valneva would see the Government provide funding to up its manufacturing capacity and help meet the costs of clinical studies. 

Ministers have signed an agreement in principle for 60 million doses if that vaccine candidate proves to be “safe, effective and suitable”.

Meanwhile a separate partnership with BioNTech/Pfizer, which the Government is hailing as the company’s “first binding agreement” with any state in the world, has the potential to deliver 30 million doses.

It comes after ministers announced in May that Britain had signed a deal with AstraZeneca to secure doses under its partnership with Oxford University, which saw human trials begin earlier this year.
The new online service being launched on Monday will also see members of the public asked to register their interested in clinical studies, with the Government setting a new target of getting 500,000 people signed up by October.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said of the hunt for a vaccine: “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.”

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