The government’s £20m investment will go to CEPI – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – a global body aiming to fast-track a vaccine within six to eight months, according to the BBC.
CEPI chief executive Dr Richard Hatchett said such a tight timescale was “unprecedented”.
The coronavirus outbreak has been categorized as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, with cases confirmed in several countries including Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan, as well as in the UK.
If the biologists are successful, more time would still be required to test the vaccine more widely and secure sign-off from medical regulators before it could be distributed across the world.
“This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development,” Dr Hatchett said.
“It is important to remember that even if we are successful – and there can be no guarantee – there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available.”
The UK’s money will help fund the efforts of Dr Kate Broderick, a 42-year-old Scot based in California, who is working to create a coronavirus vaccine.
“We hope to get the final product into human testing by early summer,” Dr Broderick, a molecular geneticist who works for the pharmaceutical company Inovio, told the BBC last week.
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