At the end of last week, the UK government announced the launch of a ‘Vaccine Taskforce’ to expedite the development and manufacture of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The taskforce will be led by chief scientific adviser to the government, Patrick Vallance, and deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan van Tam. According to the government, the members also include further representatives from government, academia and industry.
The taskforce named John Bell, ‘life sciences champion’, as well as selected individuals from AstraZeneca and the Wellcome Trust as contributing members, with the taskforce working alongside the BioIndustry Association (BIA).
According to the government, the taskforce will have five principle activities:
- Supporting the discovery of potential coronavirus vaccines by working with the public and private sector, rapidly mobilizing funding, supporting leading academics and identifying ways to fast-track clinical trials
- Preparing the UK as a leader in clinical vaccine testing and manufacturing, working with companies already at the forefront of vaccine development
- Reviewing government regulations to facilitate rapid and safe vaccine trials
- Developing funding and operational plans for the procurement and delivery of vaccines
- Building on the UK’s research and development expertise to support international efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine
In regard to manufacturing, the plan is for the scale up of capacity allowing for a potential vaccine to be produced at a ‘million-dose scale’.
As part of the same announcement, the government stated that 21 coronavirus projects were set to share around £14m ($17m) in funding to accelerate development.
Included within this is a trial by the University of Oxford to determine whether an anti-malarial treatment could diminish symptoms of COVID-19 in people in high-risk groups. The university recently launched such a trial into chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine for those members of the public at high-risk.