Prince Harry, The Duke Of Sussex, honours the brilliant scientists behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine live at the British GQ Men Of The Year Awards in London
The 24th British GQ Men Of The Year Awards, in association with Boss, took place at the Tate Modern last night and surprising the final award-winners – GQ’s Heroes Of The Year – Prince Harry, The Duke Of Sussex, beamed in live from California to do the honours.
Having worked closely with the magazine last year – interviewing fitness instructor, author and activist Patrick Hutchinson about tackling racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd – Jonathan Heaf, British GQ’s Chief Content Officer, asked Prince Harry to present the climactic award to Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Dr Catherine Green and the entire Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine team to recognise their incredible scientific achievements since the pandemic broke.
Dressed in a traditional black velvet tuxedo and speaking live from California – around 11pm in London; 3pm Los Angeles time – Prince Harry’s speech warmly underlined the Oxford/AstraZeneca team’s incredible work in developing the life-saving vaccine at record speed, while also calling for the world to remember such crucial work requires continual funding.
Prince Harry’s full speech:
I’m deeply honoured to be introducing our final awardees, who you’ll immediately recognise for their landmark contribution to the fight against COVID-19.
Our heroes of this evening are Professor Sarah Gilbert, Doctor Catherine Green, and the entire team of dedicated Oxford scientists. Their breakthrough research on the Oxford Vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity.
They also approached their mission with a humanitarian urgency. In April of last year, the Oxford Team packed up a shipment of research cultures and stealthily sent it to India—an early example of the biotech collaboration we need to bring this global crisis to an end.
Until every community can access the vaccine, and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk. That’s a common refrain my wife and I have heard in convenings with vaccine experts, heads of industry, community advocates, and global leaders.
As people sit in the room with you tonight, more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s more than five billion shots given around the world so far. It sounds like a major accomplishment, and in many ways is. But there is a huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine. Less than two percent of people in the developing world have received a single dose at this point, and many of their healthcare workers are still not even vaccinated. We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one.
At the same time, families around the world are being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across ‘news’ media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn is dividing communities and eroding trust.
This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants.
The Oxford Team have done their part. They are heroes of the highest order who gave us an instrument to fight this disease. They are our nation’s pride, and we are deeply indebted to their service.
For the rest of us—including global governments, pharmaceutical leaders, and heads of business—we have to keep doing our part. That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. Where you’re born should not affect your ability to survive, when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.
Thank you, again, to Professor Gilbert and Doctor Green, who The Guardian called “Two ordinary people who managed to pull off an extraordinary feat while dealing with the everyday stresses that come with being full-time mums and breadwinners in a notoriously insecure and poorly paid field.”
But tonight, we’re not honouring two ordinary people. These are two exceptional people—with a remarkable team—who are a bulwark of humanity.
Please welcome to the stage…
Dame Sarah Gilbert, Catherine Green, Emma Bolam, Ian Poulton, Laura Walker, Mwila Kasanyinga, Wendy Crocker, Lisa Stockdale, Jamie Fowler, and Syed Adlou.