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UK government secures 90 million coronavirus vaccine doses

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FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.
FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The UK government signed deals to buy 90 million doses of "promising coronavirus vaccine candidates" as the hunt for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 continues.

The government has now secured partnerships with three different pharmaceutical companies for access to three different candidate vaccines.

Many experts have said that finding a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus is essential to ending the pandemic.

"A safe and effective vaccine is our best hope of defeating coronavirus and returning to life as normal," health minister Matt Hancock said.

The candidate vaccines each use different methods to provide immunity.

The UK signed an agreement for 30 million doses from BioNTech/Pfizer, 60 million doses with Valneva (with the potential for 40 million additional doses) and one million doses of a treatment containing COVID-19 antibodies with AstraZeneca.

This is in addition to an existing agreement with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford
to research, develop and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine for the UK public.

"The hunt to find a vaccine is a truly global endeavour and we are doing everything we can to ensure the British public get access to a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible," said business Secretary Alok Sharma.

Many countries have already begun investing in vaccines to ensure that they have the ability to manufacture one if indeed it proves effective.

Experts have given different timelines for when a potential vaccine would be ready, stating that it could be as early as next year.

The UK previously denied the opportunity to participate in a European vaccine scheme so that the country would have a say in the procurement, quantity and delivery schedule.

A government spokesperson said earlier this month that "pursuing independent discussions with pharmaceutical companies [was] key to ensuring the British public have swift access to any vaccine."

The UK also created a new NHS website to encourage the public to volunteer for vaccine studies. The government said the aim was to sign up 500,000 people by October.