"Global pharmaceutical company Janssen will begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK from today (Monday 16 November), involving 6,000 volunteers across the country", the statement said.
The study, which is jointly funded by the UK government, is the third of its kind to enter clinical trials in the UK, together with the vaccine candidates being developed by US biotech company Novavax and University of Oxford/AstraZeneca.
"The start of further clinical trials in the UK is yet another step forward in the race to discover a safe and effective vaccine, and comes alongside recent news that we could be on the cusp of the first major breakthrough since the pandemic began", the business minister, Alok Sharma, said, as quoted in the statement.
Sharma said the UK government has developed a portfolio of six different vaccine candidates and secured access to 350 million doses to date, including 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, which, if safe and effective, could be rolled out in the UK by mid-2021.
The head of the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, explained that many types of vaccines are needed both here in the UK, and globally, "to ensure we can provide a safe and effective vaccine for the whole population".
"That is why the launch of this trial to establish the safety, effectiveness, and very importantly the durability, of the Janssen vaccine is so significant, and I would continue to encourage people to sign up and take part in vaccine trials", she said.
Phase 3 of the trials will initially involve 6,000 volunteers from 17 sites across the UK, including Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Leicester, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton.