A coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to be available before the year is out despite tens of millions of pounds being spent on UK trials that start today.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, poured cold water on hopes that an impending vaccine could be the way out of lockdown.
He said some social distancing measures would need to stay in place for the rest of the year, until there was a vaccine or drug which reduced the severity of Covid-19.
It came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed £41 million of additional investment this week for vaccine research taking place at Oxford University and Imperial College London.
Oxford has been given the green light to start human trials on Thursday. But despite this promising step, Prof Whitty said until a vaccine was found the UK will have to rely on social distancing measures.
He said: ”Until we have those, and the probability of having those any time in the next calendar year are incredibly small and I think we should be realistic about that, we’re going to have to rely on other social measures, which of course are very socially disruptive as everyone is finding at the moment.”