The scientists working on a second vaccine for the virus will soon start recruiting volunteers for clinical trials to begin in less than two months.
The lab was yesterday promised £22.5million by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as Britain bids to beat the virus as quickly as possible.
Project leader Dr Robin Shattock admitted there was “absolutely no guarantee they will work”, but that animal trials carried out since February have been successful.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning Dr Shattock said: “I think it’s great that we’ve got two different approaches.
“Why it’s good to have both approaches is that there are many risks of failure along the way.
“So by having two approaches we increase the chances of having an effective vaccine in the UK.
“And both these approaches could have complementary activity and so they could eventually be combined if we need to have a prime and boost to make an even more effective vaccine for certain populations.”
Healthy volunteers aged 18-55 are being sought for the trials, which are expected to last six months.
Starting in six weeks, it comes with a University of Oxford project set to start tomorrow.
Oxford hopes to boost the immune system using a common cold virus from Chimps, while Imperial are using liquid to carry genetic material that’s needed into the bloodstream.
They both aim to recreate parts of the virus so the body learns how to fight it.
Prof Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the Oxford team, said last week that a vaccine could be available for use by the general public by the autumn.
She said: “Personally, I have a high degree of confidence. And, I think, it has a very strong chance of working.”
Mr Hancock yesterday vowed his department was “throwing everything” at the race for Britain to become the first country in the world to make a coronavirus vaccine.
Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, he said: “I can announce that the vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday.
“In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far.
“At the same time, we will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work, we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanely possible.”
The virus has now infected more than 125,000 people and killed 17,339 in the UK.