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“But it still takes time to go from this first step to knowing that it is safe and very effective. “
He continued: “I think we are in a particularly strong position in the UK because we have two very strong candidates.
“Our own candidate from Imperial College, also from the Oxford group.
“I think we have a good chance of having an effective vaccine in record time, but it probably won’t be widely available until next year. “
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Professor Shattock added that a vaccine is only part of the solution to the coronavirus pandemic as well as government-wide social distancing measures.
He noted that the technology has really changed, allowing research to work from a genetic blueprint of the virus that was released by Chinese scientists in January.
The researcher said, “We are actually using genetic material to inject into the muscle and get the muscle to make the vaccine instead of needing a large manufacturing plant.
“It is also much more efficient, faster and safer. “
Ministers acknowledged a shortage of gowns on Friday – departing from their position that there was adequate supplies of PPE but some logistical problems getting them where they were needed.
Britain has the fifth official death toll from COVID-19 worldwide, after the United States, Italy, Spain and France, although the UK figure only covers deaths from the hospital and the actual number is probably much higher.
British ministers defended their response to the epidemic, claiming to have followed scientific advice and to respond urgently in what amounts to a war situation.
Costello said the UK needs large-scale testing and that the right systems are in place to cope with new outbreaks.