To date, 10,490,487 people have been given their first vaccination dose, while 501,957 have had their second jab. Now, the UK Government and vaccine manufacturer CureVac have teamed up for a new vaccine which will target new variants of the novel virus.
This is in addition to the broader portfolio of 407 million doses already secured by the UK Government to date.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The vaccines we are deploying now are safe and effective, with the latest evidence suggesting they provide protection against new strains of Covid-19.
“But we must be prepared for all eventualities and bolster onshore UK manufacturing capacity to develop vaccines to combat new variants of the disease, taking advantage of our world-leading genomics expertise.
“This will help ensure we can continue to provide everyone with a high level of protection against the virus and save lives.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK’s vaccine programme has been a national success story so far, and we are determined to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be in the long-term if new variants of Covid-19 emerge.
“This fantastic new partnership means we can work to swiftly tweak and rollout new variations of existing vaccines if we need to, while also building up Britain’s vaccine manufacturing base in the process.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam added: “While the vaccines currently being deployed in the UK appear to work well against the Covid-19 variants currently dominant in the UK, the virus continues to mutate and it is likely that our vaccines will have to adapt to continue to offer the best possible protection.
“Being abl”e to create these new vaccines at speed will allow our scientists to keep ahead of the virus as they do every year with the influenza vaccine.
This latest vaccine is developed through this partnership against new strains of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be a variant of an existing jab by CureVac, which is currently undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials.
This means it should be possible to accelerate clinical trials ahead of submission to the regulator for approval.
The Government statement said the partnership will boost the UK’s capacity to develop and manufacture variant vaccines in the country.
Of the news, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “This is exactly the kind of work that will stand us in good stead as we continue our monumental national effort to end this pandemic and return to normality.
“Of course, we urge people to continue to take up the chance to have a vaccine when they are invited to – all of which are safe and have been proven to be effective against the virus.”
Interim Chair of the Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said: “Today’s agreement will mean the UK is better prepared for the emergence of any significant new virus variant.
“Because these mRNA vaccines can be rapidly adapted we will be ready to respond swiftly to new strains and update vaccines in the same way the flu vaccine is updated each year – a vital part of ending the pandemic once and for all.”
More to follow…