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William to British vaccine scientists: I’m so thrilled that you’ve cracked it

By PA News

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The Duke of Cambridge has personally called Oxford researchers to congratulate them on their vaccine breakthrough, telling them: “I’m so thrilled that you’ve cracked it”.

The British jab by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been found to be up to 90% effective in preventing Covid-19.

In a video call on Monday, William told the scientists: “Well done, I’m so pleased for all of you, I really am.

“I saw it in everyone’s faces back in June how much time and effort was going into this, and I could see that there was a lot of pressure on everyone, so I’m so thrilled that you’ve cracked it – so really well done.”

Those on the call included Professor Andy Pollard, professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity; Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of Vaccinology; and Professor Louise Richardson, vice chancellor of Oxford University.

They told William how the vaccine is based on decades of in-depth research and will be transformational in the next six months, offering real global potential for saving lives.

The Duke of Cambridge talks to a patient participating in the Covid-19 vaccine trial at the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility in June (Steve Parsons/PA)
The Duke of Cambridge talks to a patient participating in the Covid-19 vaccine trial at the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility in June (Steve Parsons/PA)

Professor Pollard said the result was “really exciting”, and would hopefully stop the “clogging up of the NHS”.

He told William: “I think it’s a really exciting result. We’ve got an overall 70% protection against the virus, but we’ve had no one who was vaccinated went into hospital or had severe disease.

“I think that’s going to translate into actually preventing this clogging up of the NHS that we’ve seen.”

The scientist added that the protection rose to 90% when people were given a half dose, followed by a further full dose.

“There’s this really intriguing result in the data where we gave a half dose to some people for their first dose, and then a full dose, and protection rises to 90% in that group,” he told the duke.

William congratulating the scientists (Kensington Palace/PA)
William congratulating the scientists (Kensington Palace/PA)

William nodded in agreement as Professor Gilbert said the vaccine should be for the world, not just high income countries and not just the UK.

“This vaccine should do what we always wanted it to do,” she said.

“We wanted a vaccine for the world, not just for high income countries, not just for this country.

“We’re not safe until we’re all safe.”

The duke secretly battled coronavirus himself after catching it in April, but kept his positive Covid-19 test quiet as he did not want to alarm the nation.

He was hit “pretty hard” by the virus – and at one stage struggled to breathe, it was reported.

Second in line to the throne William visited the Oxford Vaccine Group and met Professor Pollard and Professor Gilbert in June to learn more about the university’s work to establish a viable vaccine.

Wearing a mask, a protective coat and goggles, the future king was introduced to volunteers taking part in trials.

The duke said at the time that his family was very proud of the crucial work taking place at the university.

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