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      Local Collaboration, Global Impact

      With large unvaccinated populations around the globe not only contributing to needless suffering and death, but also acting as incubators of new variants, there are clear mutual benefits to the wide global implementation of an effective vaccination scheme against Covid-19.

      22 Feb 2022 Sarah Haywood, Chief Executive, Advanced Oxford

      No one is safe, unless everyone is safe – this is the tagline of the World Health Organisation’s COVAX initiative, and the statement of intent behind its rolling out of vaccines equitably to people and nations across the world. With large unvaccinated populations around the globe not only contributing to needless suffering and death, but also acting as incubators of new variants, there are clear mutual benefits to the wide global implementation of an effective vaccination scheme against Covid-19. 

      The UK’s contribution to the worldwide fight against Covid-19 has been considerable, no more so than in the development and delivery of the Vaxzevria vaccine: a collaboration between the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, university spin-out company Vaccitech, based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, and the British multinational pharma company AstraZeneca, headquartered in Cambridge.

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      While the vaccine stands to deliver tangible aid internationally, it also underlines some of the fundamental strengths of the UK life sciences industry and the ability of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc to act as the catalyst for ground-breaking research and development.

      The Arc has always been the nexus for medical and scientific research for Britain and for the world – it was Howard Florey’s dedicated research team at the University of Oxford that successfully isolated penicillin in 1940 and paved the way for its mass production. Supported by government aid in Britain and the US, the research at Oxford went on to save an estimated 15% of casualties in the Second World War and has continued to save countless others to this day.

      The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a present-day demonstration of the same collaborative power that fuelled the development of the World’s first antibiotic. The vaccine is an exemplar of the UK and the Arc harnessing the triple helix of public, private and academic expertise and investment.

      Through the collaboration between academia and industry in Oxford and a life sciences multinational headquartered in Cambridge, the benefits of the close spatial dynamics of the Arc become clear.

      This is fertile ground for solutions that have a tangible benefit for local communities, for the UK, and for the international community. Just as the world needs to make a concerted effort to beat Covid-19 through mutual effort, the shared purpose and collaboration across the Arc has accelerated the development of a vaccine which is now being delivered to the places of the greatest need. When co-located initiatives work together to research, develop and deliver life sciences solutions, they have the potential not only to contribute tangibly to the regional and UK economy but to strike a blow against debilitating and deadly health issues around the world. This is the secret sauce that lies behind the success of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: a demonstration of the fundamental collaborative ability and potential of the Arc itself. 

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