The Oxford team is one of 23 laboratories around the world working on a vaccine. Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher said: “It’s a really important day. It’s a really important milestone. 

“There is still a long way to go. We still need to see how the vaccine responds in older people, but we’ve got both arms of the immune system engaged. 

“The difficulty we have is that we don’t know how strong that immune response needs to be.”

The Government has already announced funding for 100 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca, and a further 90 million from the BioNtech/Pfizer alliance and Valneva. 

The first doses will go to frontline workers and vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with illnesses and black, Asian and minority ethinic (BAME)  groups, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 

Dr Teresa Lambe, general investigator on the Oxford trial said: “We’re super-excited to see these results out.  This is one step along the way of a long journey. There is lots more to do and we’re excited to do that, if a bit tired.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, also congratulated the Oxford team, writing on Twitter: “A huge well done to our brilliant, world-leading scientists & researchers at Oxford University.”

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