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Winners - The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine: a vaccine for the world

From the Vice-Chancellor

I am delighted to launch the Innovation and Engagement Awards to give us an opportunity to learn about and to acknowledge the work of some of our extraordinary colleagues.

The mission of the University has not changed over the centuries. It is to push at the frontiers of knowledge, to educate the next generation, and to contribute to the world around us. It is through engagement beyond the university that we can translate our research for societal benefit.

This year’s awards are both inspirational and unusual in that they include submissions that have, quite literally, saved millions of lives around the world. They also demonstrate that innovation doesn’t necessarily involve creating something new, but can be just as effective when it involves thinking in new ways about established techniques or therapeutics.

I would like to thank all those who have submitted proposals to this year’s awards as well as everyone who participates in the University’s work on Innovation and Engagement.

I hope you enjoy reading about the projects described in the following pages and that they will inspire others to explore the possibilities of future projects.

Professor Dame Louise Richardson DBE


Winners - The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine: a vaccine for the world

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on human health, normal social interaction, education and economies. To fight back against the virus, the Oxford Vaccine Group developed the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which has now been used in 180 countries, with 2.8 billion doses distributed worldwide. Our vaccine, used not-for-profit, has defended lives across the planet, protecting millions from severe disease.  

In January 2020, the initial innovation was the construction of a vaccine to prevent pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus which had been detected in Wuhan, hoping to help in controlling a local outbreak. However, as the global threat became apparent, the project changed into a novel innovative vaccine development programme, which proceeded at unprecedented speed and scale.

 The multidisciplinary team brought together biologists to make and test the vaccine in the laboratory, experts in manufacturing to produce a high-quality product, and clinical trialists to test it in 24,000 volunteers. 

The first volunteer was vaccinated on 23 April 2020. The initial studies showed immune responses, which were like those that were protective in animals, and similar immunity across all ages, including those at most risk. The next step in clinical development was international, representing both high-income and low and middle income populations, so that the team could prove the vaccine worked in geographically, ethnically and socially diverse populations. 

The authorisation of the vaccine by MHRA on 30 December 2020 allowed vaccination to be launched and administered in the UK. With approval by the EMA at the end of January and endorsement by WHO in early February, the vaccine was distributed at scale globally, including as the major supplier through Covax to low-income countries from the Korean and Indian manufacturing sites. 

An innovative close partnership with AstraZeneca ensured that the vaccine was manufactured around the world at over 20 international sites, defending local supply chains and ensuring more equitable access.

The project was the biggest engagement programme ever undertaken by the University’s public affairs team with 50 proactive stories, 40 press conferences, and 60 breaking reactive stories. 

Project Team:

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard (Project Lead), Professor Sue Costa Clemens, Shaka Obhiozele, Hannah Robinson, Emma Plested, Yama Mujadidi, Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, Dr Sagida Bibi, Katherine Emary, Dr Rinn Song, Natalie Marchevsky, Dr Xinxue Liu, Dr Merryn Voysey, Professor Matthew Snape, Louise Bates, Dr Elizabeth Clutterbuck, Simon Kerridge, Dr Parvinder Aley, Sarah Kelly; Department of Paediatrics.

Dr Marion Watson, Dr Daniel Jenkin, Dr Alison Lawrie, Dr Amy Flaxman, Ian Poulton, Dr Paola Cicconi, Dr Pedro Folegatti, Professor Katie Ewer, Professor Adrian Hill, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor Teresa Lambe; The Jenner Institute.

James Colman, Alexander Buxton; Public Affairs Directorate.

Professor John Bell, Professor Gavin Screaton; Medical Sciences Division.

Professor Catherine Green, Dr Carina Joe, Professor Brian Angus, Dr Alexander Douglas, Dr Angela Minassian; Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Heather House, University Administration and Services.

Sarah Pelling-Deeves, Research Services.

Dr Nisha Singh, Department of Psychiatry.

Dr Adam Ritchie, Blavatnik School of Government.

Professor Shabir Madhi, University of the Witwatersrand.

Key Funders: UK Research and Innovation, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Innovation Fund for Medical Science, CSIROxbridge Consortium, AstraZeneca.

Link for more information