ALOK SHARMA: How you can volunteer for a vaccine trial and help defeat coronavirus once and for all
Every one of us has a small but critical part to play in the battle against coronavirus. From washing our hands to wearing a face covering on public transport and in shops, every time we take one of these actions, we push the virus further into retreat.
But the best way to defeat this virus once and for all is finding a safe and effective vaccine, and, while scientists are leading the charge, the public can help by volunteering for trials.
We are asking people to register to participate in important clinical studies, helping to speed up the search for a vaccine and to end the pandemic sooner.
I am incredibly proud that, here in the UK, remarkable vaccine research is taking place right this second at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
‘The best way to defeat this virus once and for all is finding a safe and effective vaccine, and, while scientists are leading the charge, the public can help by volunteering for trials,’ says Business Secretary Alok Sharma
Backed with more than £130million of Government funding, this vital work is being led by some of the world’s best minds in science and research.
As a Government, we are backing every horse in the race to ensure the British public can be vaccinated against this disease as soon as possible. On Monday, we announced new partnerships with some of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and vaccine companies, including the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance and Valneva – with many more in the pipeline.
Thanks to these agreements, we have secured early access to 90million doses of promising vaccine candidates, ensuring that people in the UK can be protected from the moment a safe and effective vaccine becomes available.
This is on top of a pivotal deal between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for 100million doses if the Oxford vaccine is successful. While incredible research is ongoing, it is only right we develop a new manufacturing base to produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine rapidly.
So we will invest in a new state-of-the-art Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree, Essex. This facility will complement the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire and will have the capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months.
Alok Sharma says: ‘While incredible research is ongoing, it is only right we develop a new manufacturing base to produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine rapidly’
Over the past few months, we have been cautiously and gradually reopening our economy, and it is fantastic to see so many shops, pubs, hairdressers, and other businesses taking necessary steps to keep customers and workers safe.
But we all know that the best way to defeat this disease once and for all, and really get our economy firing on all cylinders again so we can protect and create jobs, is by finding a safe and effective vaccine.
Finding a vaccine takes time and there are no guarantees. We must remember that coronavirus is a new disease, which presents new challenges.
But I know our researchers will rise to this challenge, buoyed by the knowledge that the nation is standing behind them, willing them on to success. Volunteers can play their part by signing up at nhs.uk/researchcontact.
Every member of the public has a supporting role to play as we await that momentous breakthrough.