The United Kingdom’s Government has signed up for an additional 90 million doses of potential Coronavirus vaccines being developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech.
The process to develop a vaccine usually takes years, however experts are racing against time to develop a working coronavirus vaccine, with more than 20 human trials underway in a process that experts and pharmaceutical firms say will likely take up until 2021 to yield effective results.
On Monday, the U.K.’s business department announced it has secured access to a further 30 million doses of another vaccine in development by Pfizer and german firm BioNTech, which is in early to mid-stage trials.
Five pharmaceutical giants—Merck, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson— will appear before the British Congress on Tuesday to discuss how their vaccine development is progressing, according to Forbes.
Britain’s has also agreed in principle to buy up 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by French firm Valneva, with the option to acquire an additional 40 million doses if the vaccine, now in pre-clinical trials, is proven safe and effective.
The U.K. government previously signed up for 100 million doses of an AstraZeneca vaccine being developed by researchers at Oxford University, which is being made from a genetically engineered virus.
That means the U.K. has now secured the supply of up to 230 million vaccine doses, although a working vaccine is yet to be signed off.
Britain has further secured an additional 1 million doses of a treatment being developed by AstraZeneca to protect those who cannot have vaccines, including cancer patients and those who are immunocompromised.
Kate Bingham, Chair of the U.K.’s vaccine taskforce, said in a statement: “The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving.
“But I urge against being complacent or over optimistic. The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.
Pfizer and BioNTech say they expect to make 100 million vaccine doses this year, and scale up to 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. The firms say they could seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in October this year.