15 February 2022

Covid vaccine developer Gilbert hopes for ‘caution’ when restrictions lift

15 February 2022

A British co-developer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, credited with saving millions of lives around the world, has said she wants people to be cautious when Covid restrictions lift.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, speaking after collecting her DBE from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, said she hoped people would “exercise some degree of caution”.

Current self-isolation regulations, which include self-isolating for 10 days unless you have a negative lateral flow test on days five and six, expire on March 24.

The 59-year-old told the PA news agency: “I hope that people are going to exercise some degree of caution as we go through the spring.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

“I think it would be beneficial if we’re still taking care of those around us.”

The professor of vaccinology at Oxford University and mother of triplets co-created the jab which has been used by more than 2.5 billion people in more than 170 countries.

Dame Sarah, who was honoured for services to science and public health in Covid vaccine development, has been the subject of high praise for her work, received a standing ovation at Wimbledon when she attended the tournament last summer and has had a Barbie doll launched in her image.

After collecting her DBE from the princess, she said: “It’s a very different kind of day, obviously, to be here and a great honour to come to Windsor Castle to meet the Princess Royal and lovely to be honoured along with many other people who have done lots of important things.”

She added: “She was asking when I first got into vaccine development, was it early on in my career. I told her it was because I always wanted to work in some aspect of biological sciences that could have an impact on health.”

During the investiture ceremony, 81 people collected honours, including classical pianist Dame Imogen Cooper, who received her damehood for services to music.

Dame Imogen Cooper after she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to music (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Dame Imogen has been a recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music in recognition of her major influence on the musical life of the nation.

Through her Imogen Cooper Music Trust, she also gives scholarships to promising young musicians.

She said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been recognised for something that I actually simply love doing and I’ve done all my life and I’m still trying to do better on a daily basis and I’m absolutely amazed.”

John McGuinness with his MBE for services to motorcycle racing (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Others included 23-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness, who collected an MBE for services to motorcycle racing, and sculptor Veronica Ryan, who collected an OBE for services to art.

Veronica Ryan with her OBE for services to art (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Ms Ryan was commissioned by Hackney Council to make a public sculpture to celebrate the Windrush generation, which was unveiled in a Hackney street in October.

Conductor Daniel Harding, who won a Classic Brit award for young British classical performer, collected his CBE.

He told the PA news agency it was an “enormous surprise” when he received the news.

Conductor Dan Harding after he was made a Commander of the British Empire for services to music (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Harding said: “I was vacuuming at home, which is already a surprise, and I saw an email on my telephone. It seemed like another spam and then something rang in the back of my head ‘I should probably read that email’.

Pianist and composer Eleanor Alberga, who has written for the BBC Proms and the Royal Opera House, said it felt “absolutely wonderful” collecting her OBE.

Composer and pianist Eleanor Alberga with her OBE for services to music (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

She said: “I’m very privileged to be here, I feel so honoured to have got this award.”

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