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From studying medicine to developing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Read the interview with our alumnus, Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group about his time as a medical student and his career so far.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, studied medicine and qualified in 1989. He recently spoke to the Queen Mary Alumni team to talk more about his studies here, his fondness for mountaineering and to provide an insight into the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is now being rolled-out to the most vulnerable people in the UK and globally.

Professor Pollard explained why the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and its development is so unique: "From the perspective of our mission, we have fulfilled our goal of developing a vaccine not-for-profit that can easily be distributed to every corner of the world in fridges and which can get into remote villages in Africa just as easily as it can into an NHS hospital.

"Because of good investment in UK science, we have been able to make a vaccine and run the trials ourselves, which has allowed us to be ahead and to hopefully contribute to public health.

"One of the key things is that even if there are restrictions on movement from within the UK, as seems to be the case recently, this doesn’t matter for the vaccine because AstraZeneca has a supply chain in each region of the world to make sure that the vaccine can be made and distributed. This is a major success.

"There is clearly a supply chain advantage in that we’re able to manufacture the vaccine and put it into vials here in the UK but what we really need is to be able to get it to everyone, everywhere. We are not safe until we achieve this, I think that is very clear with this virus."

Remembering his time as a student, Professor Pollard commented that “I enjoyed everything I encountered throughout my degree so choosing a specialism was quite difficult because it wasn’t initially obvious which direction I should travel in once I qualified.

I was fortunate enough to meet some great long-term friends and my overall experience was amazing”

Read the full alumni interview to find out more about Professor Pollard’s time as a medical student and his career to date.

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