The British government has established a coronavirus task force to "accelerate" the research and manufacturing of a vaccine to immunise the population, it was been revealed on Friday.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma took the podium to address the country during government's daily press conference at Downing Street, telling the nation that the purpose of the group is to prioritise the construction of a vaccine but the UK could be in for a long wait before the final product is available.
"The government has set up a vaccine task force - to accelerate the development of a vaccine. It aims to ensure a vaccine is available to the public as soon as possible", Mr Sharma said.
"We cannot put a date on when we will get a vaccine. But, we live in a country with a rich history of pioneering science".
"Producing a vaccine is a colossal undertaking. A complex process which will take many months. There are no guarantees. But the Government is backing our scientists, betting big to maximise the chance of success", the business secretary said.
Watch LIVE: Alok Sharma leads No 10 press briefing. https://t.co/XXdEvz3f9h— LBC (@LBC) April 17, 2020
The governments Chief Scientific Adviser and leader of the task force, Sir Patrick Vallance, stressed that we are not close to developing a vaccination for the coronavirus.
"We are not two days away, not two months away it has to be safe. There is a lot to do before we are in that position", he said.
"We are looking at really big capacity. We will make sure the most vulnerable people are protected, but the vaccine is some way off", he added.
The task force will also include Johnathan Van Tam, an influenza specialist who has been investigating the virus as well as academia and industry representatives. Life sciences champion Sir John Bell, AstraZeneca, and the Wellcome Trust will also be involved.
The group will provide industry and research institutions with the necessary resources and will review regulations to facilitate the vaccination trials.
It will also increase manufacturing, so that when a vaccine is available, production can be done quickly and en masse.
The government said that it will provide £14 million worth investment for 21 new research projects with the objective of combatting the spread.
The announcement follows the announcement by First Secretary of State Dominic Raab that the national lockdown will be extended by an extra three weeks.