The Prime Minister made the grave warning at Mondays coronavirus daily press briefing at Downing Street. He said that despite “encouraging” progress from universities, there remains no guarantee for a vaccine in the UK.
Boris said: “I’m hearing some very encouraging things from what’s going on at Oxford to achieve a vaccine.
“This is by no means guaranteed.
“I believe I’m right in saying that even after 18 years we still don’t have a vaccine for SARS.
“What I can tell you is that the UK is at the forefront of concerting international activity to try to deliver a vaccine.”
Boris Johnson added that the Government was putting “huge sums” into finding a vaccine.
But he also continued to cool expectations: “If you ask me am I absolutely certain that we won’t be living with this for a long time to come, I can’t say that.
“It may be that we have to become ever more flexible, ever more agile, ever smarter in the way that we tackle, not just this infection, but potentially future infections as well.”
Oxford University launched their clinical vaccine trials on human subjects on April 24.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Governments chief scientific advisor, agreed with the Prime Ministers assessment that a vaccine could never be guaranteed.
Also speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, he said: “It’s a tough thing to do.”
But he said there were therapeutics and drug development programmes under way, adding: “I’d be surprised if we didn’t end up with something.”
“There’s been a number of vaccine programmes around the world, which are progressing.
“There’s a number in the clinic now … so far so good.
“The chances are a bit higher than they were of getting a vaccine, but you never know until you’ve got one.”
Earlier on Monday afternoon, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK will host the global vaccine summit due to take place on June 4.
Speaking in the Commons during the foreign and commonwealth affairs questions, Mr Raab said: “We want to spearhead the race.
“The pursuit of a vaccine through the research that’s being conducted in this country and if possible manufactured at the kind of scale that would not just deal with UK needs but also those more broadly.
“We are the leading donor in the latest call for donations to make sure, not only that we can provide vaccines for UK nationals here at home, but also make sure that they can be expanded, particularly for the most vulnerable countries abroad.”
At the same press briefing Boris Johnson defended his new lockdown instructions after criticism that they were “vague.”
Mr Johnson said “we’ve had to make a big, big change in our lives over the last couple of months” and pointed to the clarity of the old stay at home messaging.
“It’s when you come to take small steps back to normality, as we are now, that clearly the message becomes finer, more complicated,” he said.
He told the daily briefing: “We’re saying that if you can’t work from home you should talk to your employer about getting back to work, but explained: “We’re insisting that it’s got to be safe at work and safe to get there.”
[contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]