Relentless work has 'paid off', says Irish-born professor who co-designed Covid vaccine

Relentless work has 'paid off', says Irish-born professor who co-designed Covid vaccine

A vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

The Irish-born professor who co-designed the AstraZeneca and Oxford University Covid vaccine has said that she has never worked as hard in her life.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced their jab is effective in preventing many people getting ill and it has been shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly.

“It has been all hands to the pump, it's been seven days a week and there's been no break. It's been relentless. Luckily it's paid off,” Professor Tess Lambe told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“We started on January 10 - that's when I got the email in that helped me co-design a vaccine over the weekend. It was a busy weekend. It's been a busy year, it's been absolutely manic.

“Normally it takes up to 10 years for a vaccine to be developed. What we've done, is steps at risk and at no point does that infer we've taken safety risks, it's been monetary risks so that's why we needed a partner like Astra Zeneca and our other partners.” 

Prof Lambe, who is an associate professor at the Jenner Institute in Oxford University, said it was very important to focus on getting as many vaccines “out there” as one vaccine would not cover the whole world. 

“We're very excited to be able to contribute in this way. 

“I think I can speak for the whole team that we're elated that we've got this far this fast and with such an amount of safety and a really good efficacy readout. I think there is some confusion around the quoting of 70% and 90%, but it simply comes down to two different types of regimes while we're seeing the different results - the 70% is when you combine the regime of the 90% with a different regime a standard does and a standard dose so that's why there's a little confusion.” 

Prof Lambe said her team was committed to getting up to three billion vaccines ready by next year. “Having a dosing regime where we can halve the first dose is an advantage. So we're actually going to get more bang for our buck.

“I don't see it as a home grown option, we were very committed from the beginning to get a partner on board, Astra Zeneca, that will provide this vaccine at cost during the pandemic to low to middle income countries. 

"We're dedicated to getting our vaccine as far around the world as we can in the next year."

When asked if the vaccine would be ready to roll out before the end of the year, she said that was not for her to decide, that was up to the Government and Government bodies.

“I've had my head down trying to make a vaccine for the last year or so, those types of policy decisions are not up to me, unfortunately.

“I definitely miss my family and my friends from Kildare, truth be told I've been a bad daughter and haven't been in touch with them as much as I should have been, but it has been all hands to the pump, it's been seven days a week and there's been no break. It's been relentless. Luckily it's paid off.

“I've never worked as hard, or been as driven. I'm definitely looking forward to the end of the day when I can have a glass of wine,” she said.

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