The scientist behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab has been awarded a medal previously won by Winston Churchill.

Professor Sarah Gilbert has been given the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Albert Medal for her work on the vaccine.

Prof Gilbert, who is lead researcher on the team, is Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University.

The RSA Albert Medal is awarded annually to recognise experts spearheading the solutions to “the challenges of our time”.

Professor Sarah Gilbert
Jabs were developed in record time

Churchill scooped the gong in 1945 for leading the Allies to victory in the Second World War.

Other past winners include Marie Curie for the discovery of radium; Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the telephone; Stephen Hawking for boosting awareness of physics; and Tim Berners-Lee for creating the World Wide Web.

Prof Gilbert said: “It is a great honour to receive this award.

“The creation and the development of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine came after I had worked in this field for many years, learning how to move quickly from a concept to a licensed vaccine, which involves numerous steps along the way.

“With a great team at Oxford we developed a ‘vaccine for the world’ which is now being used to save lives in many countries; our goal from the very beginning.”

RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor said: "The RSA’s Albert Medal celebrates the best in innovation, and the Oxford vaccine is a huge triumph for British creativity, research and development.

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“The path set by Professor Gilbert and her team shows how public, private and philanthropic sectors can collaborate in the public interest.”

The award is named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, who was credited with focusing on science and industry, and organised the 1851 Great Exhibition.