In a year that has seen a surge in vaccine-preventable diseases, the UK has seen just one new vaccine announced: a vaccine developed by a British company that was developed for use in Europe.
However, this is the first of many similar vaccines that could be released over the coming years, and the potential for the UK to see the launch of more vaccines in future could be huge.
The BBC’s Robert Peston spoke to Dr Mark McArthur, a specialist in vaccines at Imperial College London.
He said: “This is the start of a vaccine that could have huge impact on the future of medicine.”
We’re seeing a significant rise in vaccine safety, with the number of people getting vaccinated and the vaccine effectiveness continuing to improve.
“There’s a lot of potential for this to become a significant, significant player in the global vaccine market.”
Dr McArthur said it was important for the Government to get the UK into the game, as it was likely to be a major driver for future vaccines.
“In order to get into the global market, you need to be able to do it quickly, you can’t get it out of the laboratory quickly and you need a strong, robust regulatory system,” he said.
Dr McArthurs report suggests that it would take another 10 years for the world to have an entirely new vaccine that works as well as the current version of the vaccine.
“The reason we’re looking at this is that this is a very, very high-risk vaccine, but in order to achieve that, you have to have very strong regulatory infrastructure,” he added.
“So I think the Government, with their own vaccine, and with the help of the private sector, is going to have to go all the way to the end and say, ‘we’ve got to make sure that we’re going to get this vaccine out into the field’.”
In addition to the vaccine, the Government is also working on an anti-vaccine campaign.
Dr McGarr said it would be important for people to understand how this vaccine works, and it was not a miracle pill.
“It’s not a pill, it’s not an oil, it is a vaccine,” he explained.
“This vaccine is part of a wider approach to vaccinating people and preventing new diseases and it is part and parcel of a global effort.”
He said there was no evidence to suggest the vaccine could cause side-effects or increase the risk of infection.
“But it is not designed to be used as a standalone drug and if you do get side-effect after side-event after side of side-emergence it’s a very high likelihood that you’re not going to see a major side-chain reaction,” he continued.
“For me, it looks like it is very likely to have a positive impact, but we are going to need to get it into the hands of as many people as possible.”
The BBC has contacted Imperial College for comment.