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Professor Andrew Pollard: COVID-19 Vaccine Development Talk

On Thursday 6 May the Mill Hill Science Scholars and Sixth Form Biologists, along with Years 6, 7 and 8 Belmont pupils, were given an opportunity to participate in a Zoom call with Professor Andrew Pollard of Oxford University to discuss how he lead a team of scientists in developing, testing and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine worldwide.

This call was packed full of interesting information and perspectives that many of us had not considered. We all enjoyed learning more about why some people experience symptoms from COVID-19 infection and the vaccines while others are unaffected. Pupils from the Fourth Form were surprised by Prof Pollard’s description of his experiences mountaineering and how climbing Mount Everest prepared him for leading a team of 2,000 to develop the vaccine.

Many pupils found the statistics he shared about how many vaccines had been distributed interesting and said they hadn’t realised that AstraZeneca were making and distributing the vaccine without making any profit.

Gaining an insight into the testing and distribution of the vaccine started interesting conversations in our classrooms including some debate about whether the vaccine that has and can currently be produced is better used in the UK vaccinating children who are not affected by COVID symptoms or being used in other parts of the world to protect people who have not had access to the vaccine.

Our pupils were inspired by this talk in a variety of ways, from seeing that hard work creates success to considering a career in medicine or biology and even one pledge to create a competitor vaccine!