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UK signs deals for another 90m doses of COVID-19 vaccine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Half a million people would be needed to take part in clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine in the UK this winter. (Getty Images)

The British government has penned deals for more than 90m additional doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and Sky News reported the government had secured an agreement for 30m doses of a drug being developed by BioNTech and the German firm Pfizer. The treatment is undergoing a phase two trial.

Phase 2 trials are designed to evaluate the drug's effectiveness in people with the disease or condition being studied and to determine the common short-term adverse effects and risks associated with the drug.

Phase 2 trials involve more participants (often several hundred) and typically last longer than Phase 1 trials, which evaluate the drug's safety and toxicity at different dose levels and determine drug pharmacokinetics.

A separate deal has, in principle, been reached with the government for 60m doses of a vaccine being developed by the French biotech company Valneva.

The 90m doses is in addition to 100m being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another batch at Imperial College London, which started human trials in June.

The business secretary, Alok Sharma, said the latest agreements would “ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk”.

News of the deals came as the education secretary said he would “absolutely” take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial.

Gavin Williamson told BBC Breakfast on Monday 500,000 people would be needed to take part in clinical tests this winter.

Asked if a vaccine would be ready by then, he said, “The whole purpose is that they will be getting trialed out. Half a million people will be having the trials of these vaccines and it will be something that comes after winter.”

Williamson said he would take part in a vaccine trial, “Absolutely. As you are probably aware, politicians tend to meet lots of people, so it would be a sensible thing to do.”


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