I am today updating Parliament on the work of the Vaccine Taskforce in securing a vaccine against covid-19.
Tackling this virus is the biggest challenge that this country has faced in peacetime history. Today I am announcing the recent steps that the Vaccines Taskforce has taken towards making a successful covid-19 vaccine available as soon as possible to the UK population and the wider world.
I can inform the House that we have signed agreements with the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance and Valneva to purchase their vaccines. This is part of our strategy to procure a portfolio of promising vaccine candidates, giving us the best chance of securing a successful one at the earliest opportunity. Demand for a successful vaccine will be high and placing these orders early will give us access to the doses we need if and when any of these candidates prove to be safe and effective in clinical trials and receive regulatory approval.
I am also announcing that the Government have issued a letter of intent in advance of entering an agreement to secure an antibody that may be used as a therapeutic treatment in support of the wider vaccination programme. The antibody, manufactured by AstraZeneca, is currently in clinical trials and could be available for use by the second quarter of 2021, if those trials are successful.
Clinical trials play a vital part in the vaccine development process. Today, the Government are also launching the NHS covid-19 vaccine research registry. This new website will enable people in the UK to volunteer for future vaccine studies planned in the UK, playing their part in our national effort to ensure a covid-19 vaccine is available as soon as possible.