Tue, 13 July 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST

Vaxxers – The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine

Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green In Conversation With Robin Ince

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Join two of the leading scientists behind the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, marking this historic moment for science and humanity.

‘This is one of the most epic and pioneering moments in human history, comparable to the race to put a man on the moon, the discovery of DNA, or the first ascent of Everest.’ – Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust

On New Year’s Day 2020, Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, read an article about four people in China with a strange pneumonia. Within two weeks, she and her team had designed a vaccine against a pathogen that no one had ever heard of. Less than 12 months later, vaccination was rolled out across the world to save millions of lives from Covid-19.

Professor Gilbert and her colleague Dr Catherine Green, who led on the manufacturing of the vaccine, join us to share the heart-stopping moments in the eye of the storm. They separate fact from fiction and explain how they made a highly safe vaccine in record time with the eyes of the world watching.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the leading UK coronavirus vaccines and the government has ordered 100 million doses (enough for 50 million people, many of whom have already received it). The vaccine is both cheaper and easier to distribute than some other vaccines as it can be stored at fridge temperatures. As this life-saving, cutting-edge science releases us from lockdown and gives hope for the future, Professor Gilbert and Dr Green will  shine light on exactly how the vaccine was designed and manufactured at huge scale and at rapid speed.

They will explore the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy, how science is communicated in the media, and how science and politics collide. They will also look to the future and ask what lessons can be learned from this pandemic to prepare us for the inevitable next time.

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Sarah Gilbert

Professor of Vaccinology, University of Oxford

Sarah Gilbert is Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute within the University of Oxford. Having devoted her career to developing vaccines against infectious diseases, since January 2020 she has been the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, also known as the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. Professor Gilbert has over 25 years of experience in the design and early development of new vaccines, and a commitment to increasing public understanding of science.

Catherine Green

Head of Oxford University’s Clinical BioManufacturing Facility

Catherine Green is Associate Professor in Chromosome Dynamics at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, a Senior Research Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford, and Head of Oxford University’s Clinical BioManufacturing Facility. As a specialist in manufacturing vaccines for clinical trials, she is an integral part of the Oxford Vaccine project.

Robin Ince

Comedian and co-host of award-winning Radio 4 science show The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Robin Ince is the co-presenter of Radio 4’s multiple award winning The Infinite Monkey Cage. He spent 2019 appearing across the world in the Universal tour with Brian Cox – travelling from LA to Oslo, Wellington to Aberdeen and ending up in Reyjavik after shows at the 02 and Wembley Arena. Robin co-wrote How to Build a Universe (part 1) with Brian Cox and his most recent book is I’m a Joke and So Are You, a book about why we become who we become and how we deal with it.