Oxford scientists to begin testing a vaccine this week as Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the UK wants to be the first country to develop a treatment

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A vaccine that could make people immune to coronavirus will begin testing on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed.

He said the treatment, developed in Oxford, will be tested on humans this week. And a second vaccine research project is also making progress at Imperial College, London.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock said: “The best way to beat coronavirus is through a vaccine.”

And he said: “The vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday.

“In normal times, reaching this stage would take years.”

Both the Oxford and Imperial College projects were receiving government funding, he said. And the UK is investing in manufacturing capacity “so that if either of these vaccines safely works then we can make it available for the Britsh people as soon as humanely possible.”

He said there was no certainty either project would develop a working vaccine but the Government would “back them to the hilt and give them every resource they need to get the best possible chance of success as soon as possible.

“After all, the upisde of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it.”

Some 97,063 NHS and social care staff and their relatives had been tested in total as of 9am on Monday.

A further 778 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 15,607, the latest daily NHS figures showed.

The number of deaths by region were:

East of England 83

London 132

Midlands 126

North East & Yorkshire 100

North West 172

South East 137

South West 28

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 1,662 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales registered up to April 10 that occurred outside hospitals.

Of these:

– 1,043 took place in care homes
– 466 in private homes
– 87 in hospices
– 21 in other communal establishments, and
– 45 elsewhere

The equivalent figure for hospitals deaths over this period is 8,673.

Boris Johnson is still not working full time as he recovers from coronavirus, but he did speak to US President Donald Trump today.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this afternoon, and thanked him for his good wishes while he was unwell.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of a co-ordinated international response to coronavirus, including through the G7 – which the US currently chairs.

“They also discussed continued UK-US co-operation in the fight against the pandemic.

“The leaders committed to continue working together to strengthen our bilateral relationship, including by signing a free trade agreement as soon as possible.”

Courtesy Birmingham Live