“When I think back to January 2020 when an unknown virus appeared and everything that had to be discovered and implemented between then and now, it is a truly remarkable achievement from thousands of scientists across the UK and, of course, across the globe.”
Professor Vallance paid tribute to work across many areas of scientific endeavour, highlighting advice given to government, work on therapeutics, diagnostics, genome sequencing and, of course, on vaccines.
He concluded: “It’s not just the scientists and everything they’ve done – and it has been remarkable to see that – but it’s also the volunteers in the clinical trials and the people who have given up their time and effort in order to help the science progress, in order to get to those answers which have been so instrumental.
“I feel deeply humbled accepting this award on behalf of British scientists and clinical researchers. We should look with pride on scientists and what they have done over the last 18 months. If anyone had said before COVID that we would have invented a vaccine and deployed it so quickly, we wouldn’t have believed it. It was British science at its best. I would like to thank the Royal Society of Chemistry for recognising all that British scientists and clinical researchers have done.”
The Malcolm Campbell Memorial Prize is awarded biennially by the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) of the Royal Society of Chemistry, to commemorate Professor Campbell’s outstanding contributions in a broad range of chemistry and their applications to the understanding of bioactivity. For the 2021 prize the BMCS has decided to recognise the outstanding contributions of British scientists to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Williams, Chairman of BMCS presented Sir Patrick with the award and explained the reasons behind the decision to give the award to UK scientists. He said: “Much of the ability of British science to respond to the pandemic arose through years of commitment to basic biomedical research, notably the world-leading capability in genome sequencing, the development of vaccine platform technologies and deep expertise in drug discovery and development.
“During the course of 2020 British scientists: pioneered genomic evaluation of COVID-19 to trace viral mutations and monitor spread of the pandemic; initiated clinical studies to rapidly evaluate a range of existing drugs in COVID patients resulting in the discovery that dexamethasone has a significant benefit on mortality in critically ill COVID patients; fast-tracked the development of vaccine candidates resulting in regulatory approval by the end of 2020. These achievements, and investments in further basic research, will have a lasting impact on the global management of COVID-19 throughout 2021 and beyond.
“The Malcolm Campbell Prize for 2021 is awarded to British scientists and clinical researchers who have made these important contributions to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020. The award also recognises the countless numbers of healthcare staff and clinical study volunteers who have selflessly dedicated themselves to pursuit of patient care and the development of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19."