With Oxford leading the way Sir Patrick Vallance has said small amounts could be made available to certain groups by the end of 2020.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser has said that good progress is being made on developing a vaccine that can fight Covid-19.
In a televised press conference with England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said a number of candidates have shown they can generate an immune response that ought to be protective.
He added: “We don’t yet know they will work but there is increasing evidence that is pointing in the right direction and it is possible that some vaccine could be available before the end of the year in small amounts for certain groups.
“Much more likely that we’ll see vaccines becoming available over the first half of next year, again not certain but pointed in the right direction, which then of course gives the possibility of a different approach to this virus.”
More than 240 vaccine trials are taking place across the world, with more than 40 in clinical trials. Only nine are in the later stages, at phase two or three, including Oxford’s.
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told ITV’s This Morning a “mass roll-out” of a vaccine could be seen in the early part of next year if all goes well.
He added: “Hopefully in the first few months – there’s still a chance of it coming on stream before Christmas, but we’ve then got to roll it out and the first people who will get it are the people who are most vulnerable – people in care homes, older people.
“There’s a series of different vaccines, but we are talking about – essentially, for it to have an impact on how we live our lives – we’re talking about the start of next year.”