The Oxford professors behind Britain’s coronavirus vaccine are among hundreds of “heroes” of the pandemic recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Prof Sarah Gilbert, who co-designed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is awarded a damehood, while her colleague Prof Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, is knighted.

A damehood also goes to Kate Bingham, who led the procurement and deployment of the vaccines and has been credited with the huge success of the rollout.

Those involved in the fight against Covid-19 make up almost a quarter of the 1,129 people on the list, including community helpers who organised food distribution or adapted their businesses to make vital supplies such as hand sanitiser.

Kate Bingham, who led the procurement and deployment of the vaccines, will receive a damehood

Credit: Craig Hibbert /Northcliffe Collection

READ: An exclusive interview with Kate Bingham from March about the procurement of Covid vaccines

But there is no knighthood for Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, as the honours committee decided it would not be appropriate to reward current government advisers while the country is still in the midst of the pandemic.

Celebrity names on the list include the actor Jonathan Pryce, who is knighted, while damehoods go to Great British Bake Off Host Prue Leith and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips.

Boris Johnson said the honours list was a chance “to pay tribute to all those who have gone above and beyond in their service to this country”.

He said: “Throughout the pandemic we have seen countless examples of everyday heroes, from those using their expertise to help develop life-saving vaccines…to the people who have given time and energy to care for their communities.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, who co-designed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is also awarded a damehood

Credit: John Cairns/University of Oxford /PA 

“We should take heart from the stories of those receiving honours and be inspired by their courage and kindness. May they be a reminder of all that we can achieve when we come together as a society.”

The list is one of the most diverse to date, with 15 per cent of recipients coming from an ethnic minority background and 17 per cent coming from a lower socioeconomic background.

Exactly 50 per cent are women, slightly lower than the record of 51 per cent.

Dame Kate Bingham said she was "humbled" to be recognised in a year when NHS workers had "risked their health and their lives in fighting Covid".

READ: Meet the women leading the Oxford vaccine team

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, has received a knighthood


She said: "The development of vaccines has been a triumph of scientific and industrial collaboration. "Just a year ago we were assembling an unproven portfolio of vaccines for the UK.

"Yet in the last six months nearly 70 million vaccine doses have provided unprecedented protection and saved thousands of lives."

Prof Peter Horby and Prof Martin Landray, who led the Oxford University trials into potential Covid-19 treatments that discovered the life-saving benefits of Dexamethasone, receive knighthoods.

Divya Chadha Manek, seconded from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to be clinical trials workstream lead on the vaccine taskforce, is made an OBE after playing an instrumental role in convincing manufacturers to base their trials in the UK.

Divya Chadha Manek, from the vaccine taskforce, has been awarded an OBE for services to the Government during the Covid-19 response

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Originally from India, Ms Manek, 35, recalled the inspiring words passed on by her father, who died in December, as she headed to the UK on a scholarship aged 18.

Handing her £500, he told her to “be good, do good and do something so amazing that you might get to meet the Queen one day”.

She added: "I know he’ll be up there looking at me and feeling proud."

Prof Paul Elliott, chair of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London and director of the giant React programme that has tracked Covid-19 case numbers throughout the pandemic, is made a CBE for services to scientific research in public health.

Professor Paul Elliott is made a CBE for services to scientific research in public health

Credit: Thomas Angus/Imperial College London /PA

Other experts being honoured in the list are Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s national director of emergency planning and incident response, who is knighted, and Nick Elliott, former director general of the vaccine taskforce, who is made a companion of the Order of the Bath.

David Hunt, head of vaccine operations at AstraZeneca is made a CBE, one of eight employees from the pharmaceutical giant being honoured.

CBEs are awarded to Ian McCubbin, manufacturing expert on the Vaccine Taskforce Steering Committee, and Mark Proctor, global supply strategy director at AstraZeneca.

Among the “unsung heroes” on the list are Rhys Mallows, 25, who repurposed his whisky bottling business in South Glamorgan to manufacture hand sanitiser.

Queen's Birthday Honours

Mr Mallows, who receives the BEM, said: "It was a bold move because we had only been operating for about for two or three months, but we are based near a local hospital and when you see the need in your community I think you have to make that decision.”

Prof Whitty’s omission from the list comes after reports that ministers want to wait until Britain is through the pandemic before rewarding those at the top of Covid-19 response.

Heather McGregor, a member of the economy committee of the honours system, said: “There are people in all areas of the Covid response whose positions are such that until we get to a different place it would be wrong for the committee to consider them.”