British scientists are leading the charge to create a vaccine to halt the next deadly pandemic within 100 days of it breaking out.
Experts are working on a high-security project at Porton Down, the top-secret government laboratory, to develop prototype vaccines to tackle ‘Disease X’ when it hits.
The ambitious target would smash the 362 days it took to develop a Covid jab, potentially stopping crippling lockdowns in future.
Scientists agree it is only a matter of time until the next pandemic, with a recent government report putting it among the biggest threats to life this year.
The new super-lab, to which the Mail was invited last week, is geared to work with the world’s deadliest live viruses, with more specialist ‘high-containment’ labs than anywhere in Europe.
Working alongside academics and industry, it is the only site in the UK equipped to create a vaccine from start to finish.
Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said Britain is already primed to launch a ‘very slick and rapid response’ to the next global threat.
Speaking at the launch of the Vaccine Development and Evaluation Centre, she said it signalled 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.
‘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.’