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Brexit funding gap for Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine institute

Image: ClickyClarkPhotos, via Shutterstock

Jenner Institute out of pocket with expected loss of its largest funder, the European Commission

The head of a UK institute behind a promising coronavirus vaccine candidate is concerned about how to replace European Union funding after Brexit.

Adrian Hill, who is director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford (pictured), made the comments following news that their vaccine—known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19—had produced a promising immune response in a large, early-stage human trial.

The potential vaccine is being developed in collaboration with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, with the first deliveries potentially starting in September. The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.

Responding to a question from Research Professional News on the impact of Brexit on vaccine development during a Science Media Centre briefing on 20 July, Hill said that while the Covid-19 vaccine did not rely on EU funding, the institute does rely heavily on funding from the European Commission.

“More generally across the programmes at the Jenner Institute—and there are more than 12 vaccines in clinical development now—the European Commission has probably been our largest funder over the past five years until now.

“So that’s going to leave a gap and we are working hard to try to fill that, but it’s not easy.”

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the institute added that non-Covid vaccine programmes, including on flu, are likely to be affected. She said: “We have had EU funding and it’s not clear where that kind of money is going to come from in future.”