Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Mologic Laboratory in the Bedford Technology Park near Bedford. Jack Hill/Pool via REUTERS

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced a £46 million funding package for urgent work to find a COVID-19 vaccine and develop a rapid test for the disease.

The announcement builds on the plan set out by the Prime Minister earlier this week to tackle the disease in the country.

This sum is in addition to the £30 million commitment that the UK has already made to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The latest funding package includes support for the World Health Organisation’s Flash Appeal and will also help vulnerable countries prepare for the spread of coronavirus in other ways.

It brings the UK’s total support to fight the virus internationally to £91 million and the investment into COVID-19 vaccine research to £65 million.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Keeping the British people safe is my number one priority, and that’s why I’ve set out our four-part plan to contain, delay, mitigate and research coronavirus.”

We are ensuring the country is prepared for the current outbreak, guided by the science at every stage. But we also need to invest now in researching the vaccines that could help prevent future outbreaks.”

The Prime Minister has visited the Mologic Laboratory in the Bedford technology Park,  where British scientists are working on ways to diagnose coronavirus.

“I’m very proud that UK experts – backed by government funding – are on the front line of global efforts to do just that,” he said.

Supported by UK funding, eight possible coronavirus vaccines are currently under development and efforts are being made to get any viable vaccines from sequencing of the virus to clinical testing in under a year. Governments around the world could then work with pharmaceutical companies to get vaccines into production and use.

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