PRINCE William has visited Oxford University to personally inspect progress on developing a vaccine against coronavirus.

The Duke of Cambridge described the work being done as 'incredibly exciting' before meeting Guinea pig volunteers taking part in the trial.

The Duke, who said his family was proud of the ongoing efforts by researchers in Britain in the fight against coronavirus, took a trip to the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility at the Churchill Hospital on Wednesday.

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Wearing a mask, a protective coat and goggles for much of the visit, the future king toured the laboratory where samples from the clinical trial are being examined by researchers.

Speaking to volunteers, the Duke enquired of one woman what had motivated her to take part, asking: "Were you just a willing Guinea pig?"

As Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the vaccine group, paid tribute to the 'crucially important' volunteers, William remarked: "You're in good hands, I'm sure."

The Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group began development of a vaccine in January and this month pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca signed a deal to help manufacture 300 million globally accessible doses when it is ready.

During the visit, while discussing the hopes for the vaccine to succeed, Prince William said if it was announced the Oxford team had 'cracked it' people would 'breathe a huge sigh of relief'.

"People want there to be some sort of finality to it," he said.

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After William asked how the team might feel if things do not work out Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the trial, said she was hopeful they would 'see something'.

"The only question is how good it is and how long it will last," she added.

The royal told the scientists he had recently spoken to an expert who said there were 1.5 million potential viruses 'that could hop from animals into humans'.

He added: "Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to people."

Highlighting the enormity of the challenge, Prof Pollard told William: "It's success for the country and the world if these vaccines work, not for us."