The World Health Organisation (WHO) activated its research and development blueprint in a bid to facilitate international cooperation in the search for a coronavirus vaccine. Dr Margaret Harris from WHO told Sky News chances of creating an inoculation to shield the public from COVID-19 are good thanks to the work done in the past on different strands of the coronavirus. She also suggested the high demand for a vaccine will drive the scientific community into securing one quickly.
Dr Harris said: “One of the interesting things about vaccines is you can do the great science but, unless there’s a market for it, it may sit there and not go anywhere.
“We had this with Ebola. We actually had effective Ebola vaccines sitting in fridges in different departments but the funding had gone, there was no market for it.
“Then there was the huge outbreak in West Africa so we were able to bring that out, test it and get the vaccine going.”
The WHO expert continued: “The fortunate thing we’ve got in our favour is, we got SARS, we got MERS, scientists have done a lot of the basic work already.
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“And, of course, you’ve got the world very, very keen for a vaccine. So all the signs are good that we will be able to develop a vaccine.”
Dr Harris also once again dismissed claims about the coronavirus having originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China.
Discussing reports from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming he had received evidence the deadly virus was created synthetically, Dr Harris noted data currently available has shown COVID-19 emanated from the animal kingdom.
She also warned the animal origin signals the virus is more likely to resurge among humans.
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“That effort has an international dimension to it too.
“So today we announced that the UK will provide Gavi, the international vaccine alliance, with the equivalent of £330million each year over the next five years.
“We seek to come up with a vaccine both to protect the British people but also to help immunize millions of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world.
“Combining the depth of our innovative know-how with the big-hearted determination that has characterised our national effort to defeat the coronavirus.”
Human trials for a vaccine began at Oxford University nearly two weeks ago.