Covid-19 vaccine may ‘not come to fruition’, says PM Boris Johnson
PM Boris Johnson is facing criticism for issuing confusing guidance on easing lockdown restrictions, which have led to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland retaining the widely effective earlier ‘stay home’ messageUpdated: May 17, 2020, 14:53 IST
The UK is ramping up facilities to produce Covid-19 vaccine on a mass scale, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday cautioned that a successful vaccine is a “very long way” off, as projects in Oxford and elsewhere continue human trials.
Johnson is facing criticism for issuing confusing guidance on easing lockdown restrictions, which have led to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland retaining the widely effective earlier ‘stay home’ message, while England has moved to ‘stay alert’, which implies some easing.
Johnson accepted that there is ‘frustration’ over the complex curbs, and wrote in The Mail on Sunday: “I said we would throw everything we could at finding a vaccine. There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition”.
“But we are leading the global effort. Some of the most promising research into vaccines is happening right here in the UK - and this weekend we are announcing a £93 million investment to open the new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre a full 12 months ahead of schedule”.
The under-construction facility will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months. The funding will ensure the centre opens in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule.
To be located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, the new centre will be the UK’s first not-for-profit organisation established to develop and advance the mass production of vaccines. The centre will also accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses such as the flu virus.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “As the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine, the UK is leading the global response. Once a breakthrough is made, we need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions”.
As of Saturday, the UK-wide death was 34,466, with a cumulative number of 240,161 cases.