12 Jun Queen’s Birthday Honours list: Vaccine heroes lead the way for their COVID-19 response | UK News
The scientists behind some of the most significant advancements in the battle against COVID -19 have been commended in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The life-saving work of those involved in the creation of coronavirus vaccines is celebrated in this year’s list, with the heroes behind the design of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab recognised for their efforts.
Its co-designer Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, has been awarded a damehood.
She said: “We didn’t really think that far ahead when we were developing the vaccine, it was all about going from day-to-day and it has been absolutely phenomenal the way the vaccine has been rolled out in so many different ways, it has been very, very impressive.
“It’s really great to have the recognition on behalf of the whole team and it is so important to recognise the large number of people who worked very hard to get this vaccine developed, manufactured, tested in trials – all of the clinical trial volunteers without whom we couldn’t have tested the vaccine, and now the people working on the vaccine rollout.”
Her colleagues, professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and joint chief investigator for the recovery trial searching for COVID treatments, and professor Peter Hornby, are both given knighthoods for their services to public health and medical research.
Others recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list include footballer Raheem Sterling for his work promoting equality in sport, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, as well as celebrities Prue Leith, Jonathan Pryce and Arlene Phillips.
England’s chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty does not feature on the latest honours list (his regular news conference accomplice Patrick Vallance is already knighted), with it thought to be too early for some figures still at the forefront of the pandemic response to be considered.
However, former chair of the UK vaccine taskforce Kate Bingham has been acknowledged with a damehood.
Her work helped to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for the UK.
Ms Bingham said she was “humbled” to be recognised in a year when NHS workers have “risked their health and their lives fighting COVID”.
“The development of vaccines has been a triumph of scientific and industrial collaboration,” she said.
“Just a year ago we were assembling an unproven portfolio of vaccines for the UK.
“Yet in the last six months nearly 70 million vaccine doses have provided unprecedented protection and saved thousands of lives.”
Alongside her is the clinical trials workstream lead on the taskforce, Divya Chadha Manek, who is made an OBE for her role in convincing manufacturers to base their trials in the UK.
Many other experts are being honoured, including Professor Paul Elliott – director of the React programme which has tracked COVID-19 cases numbers throughout the pandemic. He’s made a CBE for his services to scientific research.
Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, who played a leading role in region’s pandemic response, said he shed tears of joy when he was told he was to be knighted.
“I’m not ashamed to say that, I felt very emotional,” he said, “I think it’s just a manifestation of the fact that it’s been a tough year for each and every one of us.”
NHS England’s national director of emergency planning and incident response, Professor Keith Willet, has been knighted, too – while former director general of the vaccine taskforce, Nick Elliott, has been made a companion of the Order of the Bath.
Eight employees of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca have been celebrated, including the head of vaccine operations, David Hunt, who is made a CBE.
Brexiteers have also been recognised in this year’s list, with Conservative former minister Andrea Leadsom leading the way by being made a dame.
She’s joined by Oliver Lewis, a veteran of the Vote Leave campaign, who’s made a CBE for political and public service.
Other political figures to be commended are Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee; former children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield; and Labour MP Tony Lloyd.