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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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9:00 PM 23rd March 2020

Vaccine Trials Among Recipients Of £20 Million Coronavirus Research Investment

Trials of new coronavirus vaccine among 6 projects to receive share of £20 million.

Trials of new coronavirus vaccine among 6 projects to receive share of £20 million

other projects to combat coronavirus include immediately repurposing existing treatments to treat patients already diagnosed with coronavirus

the UK is leading the scientific and medical response to the coronavirus outbreak

Six coronavirus research projects, including 2 focused on vaccination trials, will be the first to benefit from a share of £20 million in government investment, Business Secretary Alok Sharma today (23 March) announced.

Two government-backed projects will receive new funding, enabling pre-clinical and clinical vaccine trials, as well as supporting researchers to develop manufacturing processes to produce a vaccine at a million-dose scale.

Other projects receiving funding examine how existing treatments could be repurposed to treat coronavirus, developing antibodies to help target the virus, and examining how people at greatest risk of catching it could be identified.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

"Whether testing new drugs or examining how to repurpose existing ones, UK scientists and researchers have been working tirelessly on the development of treatments for coronavirus.

"The projects we are funding today will be vital in our work to support our valuable NHS and protect people’s lives."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

"In the midst of a global health emergency the UK is using all its extensive research expertise to quickly develop new vaccines to target this international threat.

"This investment will speed up globally-recognised vaccine development capabilities and help us find a new defence against this disease."

The 6 projects receiving funding today are supporting and encouraging the UK’s world-class researchers and experts to speed up coronavirus research including developing new vaccines and treatments.

Alongside the clinical trials, other projects include:

repurposing existing therapies. Patients being treated by the NHS for coronavirus are taking part in a new clinical trial to test existing therapies developed for other conditions such as HIV. These therapies might help improve patients’ recovery

developing antibodies that target coronavirus. Researchers are aiming to develop a new coronavirus therapy by developing antibodies that target the disease – doing so will help treat a range of coronavirus infections and help people’s immune systems recognise the disease and destroy it

testing approved drugs. Researchers will test around 1,000 approved drugs on cells in laboratory conditions to determine if they might be able to treat the disease

answering urgent questions relating to coronavirus. Scientists will collect samples and data from patients diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK to answer important questions including which peoples have a higher risk of severe illness, the best way to diagnose the disease, how their immune systems are coping, and closely monitoring the effects of drugs being used. The data could help control the outbreak and improve treatments for patients

Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said:

"The UK is home to incredible scientists and researchers who are all at the forefront of their field, and all united in their aim; protecting people’s lives from coronavirus.

"The announcement made today reflects the vital work being undertaken by our scientists to help develop vaccines and treatments. This research could herald important breakthroughs that will put the NHS in a stronger position to respond to the outbreak."

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said:

"The world faces an unprecedented challenge in our efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19 and it is vital we harness our research capabilities to the fullest extent to limit the outbreak and protect life.

"Alongside the world-leading research overseen by the NIHR, these new 6 projects will allow us to boost our existing knowledge and test new and innovative ways to understand and treat the disease."

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

"These studies will be critical to finding better ways to treat and manage COVID-19, which we hope will help to save lives, protect the more vulnerable, and support the development, trials and in due course the scale up of production of much-needed vaccines. We will continue to support new proposals for research and innovation that will help the UK and others to tackle the pandemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2."

Today’s announcement builds on the UK’s world-class expertise and capability in global health and infectious disease, and supports the government’s efforts to save lives, protect the vulnerable and support the NHS.

It follows £30 million of new government funding for the National Institute for Health Research to enable further rapid research into COVID-19, and an additional £10 million to increase Public Health England’s ability to test people and monitor the virus, announced in the Budget (11 March).