A European commission-led consortium of 28 nations has agreed to conduct clinical trials on curative, low-dose vaccines designed to halt the spread of coronavirus in Europe and help people avoid the virus.
The trials will be led by a consortium of US, UK and German research institutes.
They will start in the UK, with a second phase to be conducted in Germany in the next year.
The vaccine trials will cost £12.5m ($18.5 million) to conduct and will begin in May 2020.
They will be funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The commission, which oversees the Horizon programme, has not revealed the total cost.
The EU’s chief scientific officer, Dr Robert Van der Linden, told the BBC that the trials would provide the foundation for a curative vaccine.
“The vaccine is designed to be an inexpensive, easy to administer vaccine,” he said.
Covid-19 is a coronaviral disease caused by the coronaviruses coronavirin and coronavirodavirus.
Most coronavires can be prevented by vaccines.
In addition to the vaccines, the commission also aims to support research to find a cure for the disease.
The first trial will be aimed at the treatment of patients with a milder form of the virus, with further trials planned for patients with more severe cases.
“The goal of this study is to find out whether the vaccine has a positive effect on the development of disease,” Dr Van der Linden said.
“If so, we will then decide whether to expand it and see whether that would be a good idea.”
In that case, we would be looking at whether the cost savings would justify the cost of the vaccine.
“Covids are transmitted via close contact and when people contract the virus they may also contract pneumonia.
A person with mild to moderate symptoms will usually recover within 24 hours.
Those with severe symptoms, including a rash, cough, diarrhoea and a fever, usually progress to pneumonia within two weeks.
The European commission said it would use clinical trials to gather more data to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.”
The objective is to understand whether the proposed vaccines have a positive and safe effect in people,” Dr van der Linder said.