The British government has now secured a total of 340 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine after announcing on Friday agreements with the American laboratories Johnson & Johnson and Novavax covering 90 million doses.
Johnson & Johnson, via its Belgian subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical, will provide 30 million doses, and Novavax 60 million, in the event that these two vaccines under development see the light of day, according to a press release from the British Ministry of Business.
The UK will also co-fund a worldwide clinical trial for the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.
The vaccines could be delivered in mid-2021 in the United Kingdom and would be intended primarily for the most exposed populations, such as workers in the medical sector, ethnic minorities, adults with serious pathologies and the elderly, the government said.
These are the fifth and sixth such agreements for the United Kingdom after those with Sanofi / GSK, AstraZeneca, Valneva and the one with BioNTech / Pfizer.
The AstraZeneca project, associated with Oxford University, is among the most advanced and promising in the world, with results from phase 3 trials in thousands of people expected as of September.
The number of doses secured by the country far exceeds the UK population (66 million), but it is too early to say whether the vaccines in development will work and, if successful, how many doses will be needed to vaccinate a single no one.
“The government’s strategy of building up a portfolio of potential vaccines should provide the best possible chance of finding one that works”, underlines Alok Sharma, Minister in charge of Business.
The British government also opened a register last month for volunteers who want to participate in vaccine development trials, hoping to have 500,000 potential participants by October.