In an ambitious bid to combat future global health threats, British scientists are pioneering a project aimed at developing a vaccine to halt the next deadly pandemic within 100 days of its emergence.
The ground-breaking initiative is taking place at the high-security Porton Down laboratory in Wilshire, England, a top-secret government facility that has become a central hub in the fight against "Disease X." This ambitious target is set to dramatically eclipse the 362 days it took to produce a COVID jab, paving the way for a faster response to new viral threats.
Experts working on this innovative project have identified that the risk of another pandemic is imminent. A recent government report listed it among the most significant threats to human life this year, the Daily Mail reports.
The state-of-the-art super-lab, which granted access to the BBC last week, is equipped to deal with the world's most lethal live viruses. It boasts more specialist 'high-containment' laboratories than any other location in Europe.
Collaborating closely with academia and industry, Porton Down stands as the UK's solitary site capable of creating a vaccine from inception to completion. This project's success could be instrumental in averting future crippling lockdowns, potentially changing the course of global health response.
Dr. Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said Britain is already set to launch a "very slick and rapid response" to the next global threat.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Vaccine Development and Evaluation Centre, she indicated that it marked a "step change in terms of pandemic response", adding, "The risk [of another pandemic] is growing."
"The 100-day mission is to identify a pathogen of pandemic potential and within 100 days, you have vaccines to try and manage that," adding, "This is shifting from being super ready to respond to actually trying to stop [pandemics] happening.
"For previous vaccines it would have been five to ten years. For Covid it was 362 days, so to get to 100 days is really stretching the ambition. But if we’re going to prevent pandemics then that’s exactly what we need to do."