The government has donated £20 million towards a break-neck plan to produce a vaccine to combat the deadly new coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the money would help the UK lead the way in developing a new inoculation.
It comes as the death toll in China increased to 361 with the total number of cases there now above 17,000.
Meanwhile 11 Britons flown back from Wuhan – the outbreak's epicentre – have begun two weeks in quarantine.
The additional evacuees – who travelled from China via France – joined 83 people already in group isolation at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral.
The government's £20m investment will go to CEPI – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – a global body aiming to fast-track a vaccine within six to eight months.
CEPI chief executive Dr Richard Hatchett said such a tight timescale was "unprecedented".
If the biologists are successful, more time would still be required to test the vaccine more widely and secure sign-off from medical regulators before it could be distributed across the world.
"This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development," Dr Hatchett said.
"It is important to remember that even if we are successful – and there can be no guarantee – there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available."
The UK's money will help fund the efforts of Dr Kate Broderick, a 42-year-old Scot based in California, who is working to create a coronavirus vaccine.
"We hope to get the final product into human testing by early summer," Dr Broderick, a molecular geneticist who works for the pharmaceutical company Inovio, told the BBC last week.
The coronavirus outbreak has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, with cases confirmed in several countries including Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan, as well as in the UK.
Two people, a University of York student and one of their relatives, became the first people to test positive for the new strain in the UK and are being treated at a specialist unit in Newcastle.
'All wearing masks'
Meanwhile those isolated at Arrowe Park have spoken of their experiences as they continue their quarantine in a nurses' accommodation block.
Lecturer Yvonne Griffiths, 71, from Cardiff, said she had been put in a shared flat with four separate rooms, a kitchen and a lobby area, where food and drinks were delivered.
Speaking on her third day in quarantine, she said she had "some interaction" with the others in her flat.
"People go [to the lobby] to collect things and also pick up food and some people will stand having their food together, but all wearing masks," she said.
"Obviously you have to put your mask down a little for you to eat."
Announcing the investment into stemming the spread of the virus, Mr Hancock said: "VaRead More – Source