VACCINE trials are the next step in the UK as the country ramps up its fight against coronavirus with a new Government task force kicking in.

Our top scientists have been working day and night to kill off Covid-19, but have human trials begun?

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Have vaccine human trials begun in the UK?

There is hope, and the UK may be the ones to crack corona as early as June.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that a potential jab which has been developed by Oxford University will begin human trials this week – with the university receiving a £20million boost.

The first round of trials for an experimental coronavirus vaccine got underway on Thursday, April 23 – with human volunteers stepping forward to see if it works.

Are there other vaccines being tested?

Hancock also announced on Tuesday a boost of £22.5million to Imperial College London for its vaccine research.

There is reportedly around 80 groups across the globe working to find a vaccine, as there remains no preventative measure for Covid-19 at the moment and no real treatment either.

Imperial College London and University Hospital Southampton have offered up to £625 as they advertised for people to take part in trials.

On April 17, Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the Government has set up a vaccine task force to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine – one that is hoped to be made available as soon as possible.

The task force will be facilitating trials, working in the UK and internationally.

He confirmed that the Government has green-lighted 21 research projects – with £14m going towards them.

Sharma said that we cannot put a date on when we will make a vaccine, but hopes that through the best of British scientific endeavour, it will be available soon.

The first human volunteers were injected with an experimental jab in Seattle in mid-March.

Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, said further human trials could begin in coming months with testing on mice currently looking promising.

He told Independent: "Currently we have a prototype vaccine in animal models where the early results are encouraging.

"We are hoping to progress to clinical testing by the summer depending on obtaining sufficient funds for the next stage."

Another potential vaccine is being developed by cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco (BAT).

The Benson and Hedges maker said on April 1 it could produce between 1 to 3 million doses per week by June if testing goes well, but it will need support from government agencies.

The London-listed company says it will begin clinical trials on humans after running pre-clinical tests.

The treatment is being developed by the company's bio-health division, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP).

KBP previously came up with a drug to combat Ebola.

It claims to have found an antibody that appears to fight Covid-19, using genetically modified tobacco plants, but needs US drug authorities to fast-track permissions.

US drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc is testing an experimental Ebola antiviral therapy, remdesivir, on patients with coronavirus in China and Japan – with positive signs so far.

In Wuhan where the virus outbreak began, China's Changjiang Daily reported that researchers at Zhejiang University have found that drugs Abidol and Darunavir can inhibit the virus in vitro cell experiments.

And scientists in Australia have developed a lab-grown version of the virus, a major step toward creating a vaccine.

Meanwhile, over in Germany, CureVac are also working on a vaccine, with majority investor and owner of football club Hoffenheim – Dietmar Hopp – revealing that a breakthrough could be made in the next six to seven months.

Talking to Sport1, he said: "It has to be tested first with animals then with human beings.

"But I think it could be available in autumn at the time when possibly the next wave of infections will come."

Hopp, having already gained headlines for protests in football stadiums, revealed that the vaccine will not be privatised after German reports claimed US President Donald Trump was looking to secure some of the scientists working on the project.

What have scientists said about when a vaccine will be available?

A vaccine normally takes years, or even a decade.

But researchers, like Dr Kate Broderick, and Yuen Kwok-yung, from the University of Hong Kong, predict that the fully formed and licensed vaccine will be available from early summer but it will still take "at least one year even if expedited.”

The news comes as the global research community steps up its efforts to halt the fatal epidemic.

Teams around the world are working on their own vaccines, a process that typically takes at least a decade.

British-America Tobacco's scientific research director Dr David O’Reilly said vaccine development was "challenging and complex work", but he believes the company has made a significant breakthrough with its tobacco plant technology platform.

Researchers in Australia revealed they had successfully synthesised the virus in the laboratory, using a sample from an infected patient.

The sequencing and publication by Chinese scientists of the viral genome in only a few days, compared to the five months it took during the 2002 Sars outbreak, is considered to be a game-changer.

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus."

It has similar symptoms to the common cold, making it tricky to identify early.

The NHS states the key symptoms are:

  • a new and persistent cough
  • high temperature
  • shortness of breath

Doctors may order laboratory tests on respiratory specimens and serum, part of your blood, to detect human coronaviruses.

The testing is more likely if you are suspected of having Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

Join our George Cross campaign for NHS staff

We are urging Sun readers to sign a petition calling for our NHS staff to be awarded the George Cross.

We are backing a proposal by Lord Ashcroft to honour our health heroes with the gallantry gong given for acts of bravery that did not take place in battle.

A No10 spokesman said: “The NHS is doing a fantastic job and the nation will want to find a way to say thank you when we have defeated this virus.”

SAS hero Andy McNab added: “The award of a George Cross would show an emotional appreciation.”

We are asking our readers to please sign the petition below.

The UK Government has bought 3.5 million antibody home testing kits to ensure more people are tested quickly and simply without having to leave home.

On March 31, 2020, the Government announced the tests would soon be available to the masses, including NHS workers.

The Health Secretary pledged to test 100,000 Brits a day for coronavirus – but the nation appears to be falling behind this target.

How are people treated if they're infected by coronavirus?

Patients in hospital are quarantined and treated for their symptoms to try and help their bodies fight off the virus and prevent it spreading.

In cases exhibiting pneumonia, around 25 per cent, patients are given oxygen and sometimes a ventilator.

If their lungs become too inflamed then doctors work to relieve the pressure on other organs.

In less severe cases patients are given a drip for dehydration or ibuprofen for pain relief while the body fights the infection.

These treatments are reportedly effective for the most part.

There are currently unverified theories that HIV medication could work too as it allegedly did with the 2003 Sars virus, but it is only suggested for last-ditch "compassionate use" for extreme cases of coronavirus.

Other than treatment, detection, sanitation and quarantine measures are being used to restrict the spread of the virus.

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