Scientists behind AstraZeneca vaccine recognised in Queen's birthday honours

Sarah Gilbert and Andrew Pollard hailed for creating 'a vaccine for the world'

2EM3JGC Handout screengrab from Parliament TV of Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, Sarah Gilbert, giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee on UK Science, Research and Technology Capability and Influence in Global Disease Outbreaks.

The researchers who designed the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been recognised in the birthday honours of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

Among those honoured from the University of Oxford team were professors Sarah Gilbert and Andrew Pollard.

Prof Gilbert, who has spent 25 years developing vaccines against influenza and other viral pathogens, will receive a damehood.

Her laboratory began work on the Covid-19 vaccine in early 2020 as the disease broke out in Wuhan, China.

Using a genetically engineered chimpanzee adenovirus, Ms Gilbert's team was working on a vaccine for the Mers disease and adapted it for Covid-19.

The drug is now considered a "vaccine for the world" because it can be transported easily.

AstraZeneca promised the drug would be distributed on a not-for-profit basis throughout the pandemic.

Ms Gilbert praised the work of her team in developing the vaccine so quickly.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 23:  Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Andrew Pollard attends a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Downing Street on November 23, 2020 in London, England.  Earlier, PM Boris Johnson announced plans for new coronavirus restrictions to the House of Commons, to be implemented once the current lockdown comes to an end on December 2nd. The new three-tier system and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine's successful trial were discussed at the briefing.  (Photo by Henry Nicholls/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“I am humbled to receive this honour,” she said.

“I have been so fortunate to work with a very talented and dedicated team who made it possible to develop a vaccine in less time than anyone thought possible.”

Prof Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chairman of Britain's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, will be made a knight bachelor.

“I am absolutely delighted and uplifted to receive this honour, standing in awe of our amazing international team of talented vaccine researchers and filled with admiration for the dedicated trial volunteers,” he said.

“Together we have built a coronavirus vaccine for the world, providing a protective shield fit for a band of knights.”

Kate Bingham, the former head of the UK vaccines task force, will also receive a damehood.

She will be rewarded with the honour for her unpaid work in obtaining access to millions of doses of six different coronavirus vaccines.

Among others honoured are singer Alison Moyet, Liverpool FC captain Jordan Henderson, former Welsh rugby union captain Ryan Jones, who will all be made Members of the Order of the British Empire.

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