An amount of £20 million was distributed amongst 6 Covid-19 research projects, including vaccine trials.
As the UK is rallying to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced on 23 March 2020 that £20 million GBP will be used to fund at least 6 research projects related to Coronavirus.
Among these were two vaccination trials. While there is still no vaccine or targeted treatment, several countries worldwide, including the UK, are under lockdown regulations to help flatten the curve as the pandemic spreads.
Sharma said in a press release from the government that UK scientists have been working tirelessly on developing treatments for the Coronavirus, whether they are existing treatments or new drugs.
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, stated that this investment will speed up globally recognised vaccine development capabilities and help us find a new defence against this disease.
What do the projects entail?
Besides from vaccine trials, other projects are being done on Coronavirus related research. These include:
- Investigating the repurposing of existing drugs, as there are not yet any targeted treatments available.
- Developing antibodies that may target the disease.
- Testing approved drugs to see how they might be able to treat the disease.
- Investigating which people are at higher risk by collecting samples and data from Covid-19 patients in the UK. This will help scientists understand the scope of the virus even better. In the long term, this information may help curb the outbreak.
Why is research a crucial part in the fight against the pandemic?
According to Chief Scientific Adviser Patric Vallance, the UK has top notch scientists and researchers who all aim to protect people’s lives against Coronavirus and this announcement of the investment simply reflects the importance of their roles and would simply strengthen the NHS to help the fight against the outbreak.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty fully stated that it’s vital to harness the UK’s research capabilities to limit the outbreak and save lives.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive also reiterated the importance of these projects in the press release.
“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,” he said.
Who will be involved?
The investment will be allocated to the following people and institutions:
- Dr Kenneth Baillie from the University of Edinburgh, Prof Peter Openshaw from Imperial College London and Prof Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool will run the project to collect data in order to help answer urgent questions about the virus.
- Prof Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford, who leads the team currently developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
- Prof Peter Horby from the University of Oxford, who is leading a clinical trial to test whether existing or new drugs can help treat Covid-19.
- Prof Xiao-Ning Xu from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Imperial College London, who’s research will aim to develop antibodies to target the coronavirus.
- Dr Sandy Douglas from the University of Oxford, who’s team is aiming to develop a manufacture process to produce adenovirus vaccines in large quantities.
- Prof Ultan Power and Prof Ken Mills from Queens university in Belfast, who’s project will test a library of 1 000 drugs on laboratory cells in order to fight coronavirus infection.
According to the press release, the projects will run for a maximum period of 18 months to ensure timely insights into the pandemic.