Clinical trials of a vaccine against coronavirus will start on humans next month.

Researchers at pharmaceutical giant Inovio in San Diego, California, were hoping to develop a jab to prevent the Covid-19 strain of the disease in the next six months.

But Dr Kate Broderick, originally from Dunfermline, Fife, said work was around three months ahead of schedule.

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There are now six cases confirmed in Scotland.

Dr Broderick told The Scotsman: “We were targeting early summer for the start of the first clinical trial and even on the basis of that timescale it was really fast.

“But we’ve been really lucky and we’re able to say now that we’re hoping to start that clinical trial in April.

“That’s approximately four months from when we first knew about the virus to getting this into human testing.

"So, that’s really quite an achievement on our part."

Scientists are aiming to make the Covid-19 vaccine available in the UK, but priority would be given to countries suffering the worst outbreaks.

Dr Broderick, 42, studied at Glasgow University before doing post-doctoral research at the University of California.

She said: “We’re initially starting the trial in America and this is going to be on healthy volunteers – so people who do not have the virus.

"It’s not 100 per cent certain yet, but we’re going to be testing it on between 30 and 50 people.

“It will be at two sites in the US – one at the University of Pennsylvania and one in Kansas City.

"That’s going to be to check that the virus is safe and it’s giving the right type of immune response.

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“We’re pretty confident that we’re not going to have a problem there because we’ve tested the vaccine so many times before, but this is just part of the process you have to go through.

“Immediately after the clinical trial in America we’re going to start a trial in South Korea and in China.

“The timescales depend on the authorities in both those countries, but we’re hoping to start a month after we start the trial in America.”