6,000 U.K. Volunteers to be Injected in New COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Six thousand British volunteers will be infected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine which is modeled on the Ebola jab. The vaccine, developed by global pharmaceutical company Janssen, has reached phase 3 trials, which means it will now be assessed for its safety and effectiveness.

Researchers are hoping to recruit a total of 30,000 people globally, including from 17 sites across the U.K. which include Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Leicester, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. It is also the third COVID-19 vaccine to be trialed in the U.K., along with the Oxford vaccine and one from U.S. biotech company Novavax.

Professor Saul Faust, director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility and chief investigator for the Janssen phase-three trial, told Sky News: "The Janssen vaccine is very similar to the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine in that it's an adapted cold virus that can't replicate in the body and can't give us a cold and can't give us coronavirus but it shows the body's immune system the spike protein to let us make immune responses to it. The Pfizer announcement last week was really exciting because we didn't know until last week that a vaccine will be able to stop coronavirus at all.

"All the companies are making vaccines against the spike protein so we're really hopeful that the vaccines will all work to a greater or lesser extent and it's really important that we have a number of different vaccines from a number of different companies because we have no idea whether one vaccine will work in all age groups or across all populations and we've no idea really whether the vaccine supply will be able to come from one company the whole time and supply the entire world."

COVID-19 vaccine
A third COVID-19 vaccine is being trialled in the U.K. Getty

Business Secretary Alok Sharma also welcomed news of the clinical trials. He said: "The start of further clinical trials in the U.K. 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.

"While we are optimistic with the progress being made, there are no guarantees and it is possible there will be no one-size-fits-all vaccine. That is why it is absolutely vital that while our scientists are cracking on with the job, we continue to follow the guidance to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives."

It comes as U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson begins a period of self-isolation after meeting a politician who later tested positive for COVID-19. The prime minister met with Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who is now infected with COVID-19, for 35 minutes on Thursday, though he is not showing any symptoms of the virus.