The UK has secured early access to 90 million doses of two more potential candidates for a coronavirus vaccine.

The Government has signed a deal with biotechnology company Novavax to support its phase 3 clinical trials in the autumn. It plans to manufacture the vaccine in the UK and gain access to 60 million doses.

It will also co-fund a global clinical trial for another 30 million doses, which is being run by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

The vaccine trials could be completed and potentially delivered to the UK in the middle of next year if they are safe and effective.

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The UK has now secured access to six potential vaccine candidates.

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It was announced last month that the Government has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer, which is currently in phase 2 trials.

The other deal signed last month was for 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by French company Valneva, with an option to acquire 40 million more doses if the vaccine is successful.

There are also another 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another at Imperial College London which started human trials in June.

These six deals amount to at least 320 million doses of a vaccine – but only if trials prove successful.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said the new agreements would ‘ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk’.

Priority for the vaccine would be given to higher risk groups such as NHS and social care workers, and those vulnerable to complications from Covid-19.

Chairperson of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, previously warned: ‘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.’

It comes after Vladimir Putin claimed earlier this week that Russia has approved the world’s first coronavirus vaccine.

It was also announced last month that human trials of a new antibody treatment are starting in the UK in preparation for a second wave of the disease.

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