Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock arrives for the weekly Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on 21 May, 2019 in London, England.
Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Human trials of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus are set begin in the U.K. later this week.
British Health Minister Matt Hancock said Tuesday that a vaccine developed by researchers at Oxford University will be tested on people on Thursday.
“In normal times, reaching this stage would take years, and I’m very proud of the work taken so far,” he said in a daily news briefing.
Hancock said he would make £20 million ($24.5 million) available to the scientists at Oxford, as well as an additional £22.5 million in funding for researchers at Imperial College London.
“Nothing about this process is certain,” he said. “Vaccine development is a process of trial and error and trial again.” “That’s the nature of how vaccines are developed.”
The U.K. has been criticized by some for being too slow in its response to the pandemic and for a lack of testing and personal protective equipment.
An explosive report over the weekend claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson skipped five emergency meetings as the crisis unfolded. Johnson’s government issued a lengthy response to the article refuting the claims.
Britain has been on lockdown since March 23, and the government recently announced it would extend those measures by at least another three weeks. People are currently only allowed to leave their homes for essential supplies, exercise and key work, while non-essential shops have been shuttered across the country.
The U.K.’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 16,509, according to Johns Hopkins University, while 125,856 have tested positive for the disease. The country has the sixth-largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
There are currently around 70 Covid-19 vaccines in development around the world, while only a handful are being being tested on humans.