back to article Vaccine dreams: A trip to Oxford to see a biscuit tin, some bed pans and ChAdOx1 nCov-19

It looks like a bejewelled crown, spinning and sparkling as its surfaces catch the light. But what this glass sculpture in the entrance hall of Oxford's History of Science museum portrays is much more valuable. It is a model of the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 coronavirus vaccine, developed by Oxford University researchers in 2020, one …

  1. oiseau

    ... giving it some responsibility for Britain's outstanding reputation for strategic brilliance, moral leadership and journalistic sarcasm.



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Journalistic sarcasm

      Combine this with:

      "... Camellia sinensis, a British folk remedy widely used to this day to treat shock, anxiety and visitors."

      and a standing ovation is required. Bravo!

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Journalistic sarcasm

        Camellia sinensis

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Journalistic sarcasm

        "shock, anxiety and visitors"

        Not forgetting treating the condition of it being a couple of hours since the last one.

        Sweet vernal grass - largely responsible for the small of new-mown hay.

        1. TedF

          Re: Journalistic sarcasm

          AKA Phosgene. (Try spraying a CFC propelled aerosol through a flame...)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well Done

    Really like these articles.

    Anything that highlights the people/places that 'Do' and not the people that take the glory & honours !!!

  3. Nick Pettefar

    “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”

    How’s that coming along then?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”

      It’s coming on amazingly fucking superbly thanks.

      New vaccines developed in record time - thanks to good scientific work on speeding up vaccine development, plus work on SARS and MERS. And now we’re dosing about 1.5 billion people per month worldwide and have already saved a few hundred thousand lives. As I said, bloody brilliant.

      Even better, lack of funding, paperwork, natural caution and lack of prioritisation meant that these new vaccine techniques were still a few years from frontline use. And would be very expensive to manufacture at scale. Although the UK government was already building a mid-sized vaccine plant to start producing them. And a trial for a malaria vaccine was due to start. The biggest killer disease in the world, and the vaccine trial was successful this year!

      We now have the tools, the supply chain and the political impetus to create vaccines for many of the worlds' diseases and save millions of lives a year. Vaccines are cheap, and even governments that can’t afford good healthcare are already extremely effective at delivering them. Global vaccination rates for measles and a few other diseases are now around 90%.

      This new vaccine tech will be seen by future historians as one of the great advances in human history, saving millions of lives a year. It’s fucking awesome.

      1. Martin.Sedgewick

        Re: “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”

        Your enthusiasm is fantastic! This is the attitude we need at the moment, and this comment has made my day for positivity. Go science!

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”

        What Spartacus says.

        It's coming along fine, thank you very much, despite some negative press from tabloid papers who don't understand the word 'research'.

        I recently attended a presentation from the team to their volunteers (I am one of their lab rats and proudly so), and the progress is amazing. It'd be nice if more effort on the side of the first world nations could be done to get the rest of the developing world vaccinated, but there we are.

        This thing is still going to drag on a while longer.

        However, one would hope that the long faff to get funding to do some investigatory work (like getting the custom DNA sequences from Thermo Fischer) could come to an end, because *that* is the biggest hold-up of any vaccine development. Professor Gilbert and Dr Green made that abundantly clear in their book, and it's only because one funder saw the future and the sense in Professor Gilbert's argument (within her request to reallocate her funds to the COVID vaccine instead of its original Ebola vaccine work) that the work actually got funded, made, and history followed on from that.

        And thanks has to also go to people at AstraZeneca, who despite not having *ever* made vaccines before, stepped up, learned on the fly, and pulled off an amazing feat.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”


          Oy! I'm not Spartacus! And neither is my wife...

          On the global vaccination issue I don't think it's unreasonable that the governments that funded the vaccine development and production got first dibs on them, for their voters. I don't see how a democracy can work any differently. China and Russia could use loads of their vaccines for diplomatic willy-waving, because their leaders don't have to answer to their citizens - although in Russia's case loads may be a misnomer - they weren't able to produce Sputnik in any quantity until recently.

          But globally vaccine production has shot up (and is still increasing). I think it was May when the world hit the landmark number of having vaccinated a billion people in a month, and it's still going up. That should have us mostly done this year, not next year or even 2023 as the pessimists have been saying for ages. Of course there are going to be remote places where logistics is an issue - but I think the days of vaccine supply being the problem - rather than logistics or persuading people to take it - are almost behind us. Even with some countries starting to give 3rd doses to the most vulnerable.

          As I understand it the Oxford vaccine is quite easy to change and the Pfizer and Moderna ones maybe easier still. So I'm really hoping this huge new vaccine supply chain will stay in being - or at least some of it will - and get repurposed for the new malaria vaccines that are in trials this year - and then we can look at ebola, zikavirus, West Nile virus, Dengue fever. For such a relatively small amount of funding we could make the world a much better place - and I really hope that the world's governments do it. This is an area where the UK government has led the world, in funding CEPI and GAVI for 2 decades - and we upped our annual spending last year with the aim of helping with Coronavirus but also future vaccine work. It only needs a few governments to join in and we could be entering a new era of global medicine. Even if not, the work is happening, it'll just be slower.

          Go science!

          1. Mystic Megabyte
            Thumb Up

            Re: “ the university's vaccine worked safely and would be made available cheaply across the world”

            "Of course there are going to be remote places where logistics is an issue ". Or in the case of the USA, mass stupidity.

            Before you want to flame me I would have been dead aged 2yo. My appendix burst and I was flooded with Penicillin and fresh blood. This treatment saved my life but I'm now allergic to Penicillin.

            Too much of a good thing!

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Well, AZ say they have 25 manufacturing sites in 15 countries delivering to all parts of the world. It's also sold/used under other brand names so it may not always be obvious at first glance just how widespread that specific vaccines distribution is. It's also manufactured under licence in at least the USA and India and is now distributed in the EU under a new brand name so you don't hear so much of AZ vaccines in the EU now.

    I'm not sure of the pricing, but I think the list price is something like $4 per dose, but may be cheaper where countries have invested in production or other subsidies. Not to mention the significantly cheaper distribution infrastructure than is needed for the very low temp vaccines.

    1. Sub 20 Pilot

      Nice reply. I really can't abide the morons and fuckwits who keep putting down the successes of UK or part UK ventures, usually while praising anything from the US.

      It should be clearly shown everywhere that the Oxford AZ vaccine is being produced and distributed at almost cost price, Not something you see with US produced stuff - they seem to be charging about 9 times the price and I would assume are making a killing from the pandemic.

      Some things are more important than money but the US and their followers will not understand that as it is contrary to their belief.

      1. Imhotep

        Sloppy thinking.

        "the US and their followers" You speak of the US as if it is an individual. There are over 300,000 Americans, each with their own beliefs, the majority of which have a favorable opinion of the UK I believe.

        I don't know of anyone who has had to pay or wait for a Covid vaccination in our area. They are widely available at no cost.

        *State of Tennessee and I imagine pretty much the same for the rest of the US.

        1. Keith Oborn

          Re Sloppy Thinking

          Err- 300,000,000 Americans!

          As for pricing the cost to the patient is not the point, it's the cost to the provider.

          Oxford/Jenner were determined to deliver a vaccine "at cost and at scale" and AZ was the only company prepared to do it. The others are done at commercial prices, so a dose of AZ going into an Indian or British arm cost the health provider about 4$. A dose of Pfizer or Moderna going into that arm would cost about $40. This really matters for most of the world.

          Not wanting to denigrate the others, but Oxford and AZ have done the world a huge favour.

          1. Imhotep

            Re: Re Sloppy Thinking

            Yes, 300,000,000. But what are three zeroes between friends?

            1. PRR Silver badge

              Re: Re Sloppy Thinking

              > what are three zeroes between friends?


          2. Imhotep

            Re: Re Sloppy Thinking

            "As for pricing the cost to the patient is not the point, it's the cost to the provider."

            You are quite right of course.

            Except I keep hearing of free health care from politicians and others over here, so that must be an exception.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "I don't know of anyone who has had to pay or wait for a Covid vaccination in our area. They are widely available at no cost."

          Apart from some queue jumpers "going private", I don't recall reading of any vaccine recipients paying anywhere in the world. But the vaccine producers certainly are charging for each dose. The point is how much profit are the producers making? I doubt the Chinese or Russian producers are making much, if any, profits from theirs either. It'll be interesting to see if anyone does some research and investigation into this in the aftermath and produce some nice graphs show who made huge profits out of all the misery, suffering and death. Likewise, it'll be interesting to see who defends the profiteers and the PR spin put on it.

          When you can make billions of doses of a vaccine in the middle of a pandemic and humanitarian crisis, you WILL be judged on how you responded. If the response is Billions in profit when others have stepped up and genuinely helped, then there really isn't much of a defence.

          It'll be interesting to see which, if any, of the big pharmaceutical companies get "incentives" to move to different States or Cities in the US when at least some will have made billions out of vaccines.

          1. Shalghar Bronze badge

            A dose of the pretty much useless (Israel is at the fifth dose and still not immune, germany is likely to enforce 3 doses although its already proven that biontech stuff does not immunize at all) Pfizer/Biontech stuff is around 16 to 20 Euros after their price hike. AstraZeneca around 8 Euros, J+J around 9 Euros if my current information is correct.

            The last of the marketing arguments for biontech is an assumed possibility that it might lower the intensity of the disease although the EMA already disproved that in its initial report.

            Not much help, though, as regardless wether you have the number of doses considered necessary for the vaccine of your choice (2 AZ or 1 J+J), german regulations will enforce 3 additionals from biontech, as pretty much all of the constantly changing regulations will not grant you the "boostered" status without 3 doses biontech, no matter if you have received one of the better working vaccines in sufficient applications.

            German government really did destroy any kind of credibility to a state driven vaccination programme, constantly changing the rules and regulations which are almost all suspiciously "optimized" for biontech and enforcing silly and useless lockdowns and other atrocities like cross vaccinations, which are not deemed safe by the WHO. It does not dampen any suspicions that biontech got free manufacturing facilities on the taxpayers dime.

        3. Binraider Silver badge

          My experience of travelling in the states shows that a significant number of them hate “everyone” that isn’t themselves. Redneck types in the mid west have on more than one occasion been extremely offended by walking 100yds from our hotel to a bar, rather than driving.

          In Pittsburgh, experienced lunatic nationalist dross from yokels complaining about us visiting Kennywood. Happens to be near one of the war-of-independence battlegrounds, so Brits are the enemy. If that’s the limit of your experience of travel which seemed to be the case.

          One of the problems of having a short history is that single events get blown out of all amplitude, especially when what little culture there is, is derived from it.

          Still love travelling there, most folks are fine.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      AZ is still AZ in the EU, I got the PF while my wife got the AZ.

      But you are right, no head of state in the EU will start every speech with any mention of any vaccine.

      Using the Wikipedia we find some information on price per dose and what has been produced around the world.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Happy double dose AZ recipient here

    Thanks to the ladies and gents from Oxford.

    You guys rock!

    Interesting article too.

  6. keithpeter Silver badge

    History of Science Museum... the old Ashmolean

    They used to have Russell's moon pastel on the staircase on the way to the middle floor with the astrolabes.

    There is a collection of early scientific instruments which underlines the importance of just measuring things in the early days (the point being to work out what to measure and how)

    And a copy of John Dee's Holy Table reminds us that what we call science developed from magical thinking. Its the doing experiments in public and critical analysis of the results that differentiates science from e.g. alchemy. Sadly, we need to keep on defending the publication and criticism of results...

    The Weston Library across the road (1940s building) has a large hall open to the public for just sitting and thinking (as well as exhibitions &c). Handy if the crowds are getting overpowering.

    Nice article, keep them coming.

    1. Majikthise

      Re: History of Science Museum...

      As well as refuge from the masses, the Weston Library also has central Oxford's most well appointed, spacious and crowd-free public* lavatories. Not an unimportant matter just at the moment, if Reg readers fancy seeing the sights of Oxford.

      *OK, they're technically for the Weston café, but no-one will stop you.

    2. SA_Mathieson

      Re: History of Science Museum...

      Happy to say that the giant moon pastel (where you said it is), the early scientific instruments (top floor) and the copy of Dee's table (entrance hall) are all still there. Although I focused on the medical exhibits for this article, the History of Science Museum has treasures from a range of sciences. Another is a blackboard that Einstein used when he lectured in Oxford, up on the wall to the left of the bed pan/biscuit tin cabinet in the basement ( Just possibly this is more significant that the Sinclair calculator I mentioned.

      1. Outski

        Re: History of Science Museum...

        A propos of absolutely nothing in the article, why don't you get a Vulture icon on your comments?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. goodfellasmoon

    Too many options, I can not decide...

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