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BSI response to government announcement on new Vaccine Taskforce

17 April 2020

Today, the UK Government has announced the creation of a new Vaccine Taskforce to take forward efforts to develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine.  They have also announced new funding for 21 other projects that aim to help our response to and develop new treatments against COVID-19. In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:

"It’s brilliant to see the UK Government provide such critical support to the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The UK leads the world for the quality of our immunology research and the British Society for Immunology welcomes this announcement of a Vaccine Taskforce, which will help drive forward research efforts by our world-leading scientists to produce a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. We look forward to supporting the Taskforce's work with the key immunological input that will be crucial to its success.

"The human immune system is extremely complex and developing a vaccine against COVID-19 will not be an easy task. Key to this is making sure we have an in depth understanding of the exact immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and being able to harness this appropriately via a vaccine. All vaccine candidates will still need to go through many stages of testing to ensure that they are both safe and effective for widescale use. We need to be realistic about the timescale in which this can take place.

"We also know that everyone’s immune system functions differently, in particular older people often generate less potent and long lasting immune responses to vaccination. As this group is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, we are also pleased to see the Government supporting research efforts into other approaches including developing new medicines and repurposing existing drugs which may be effective treatments for patients with COVID-19." 

The UK Government announcement about the Vaccine Taskforce can be read here.  A full list of the new research projects supported can be found on the UKRI website.