The Duke of Cambridge described the work as “fascinating” on a visit in which he revealed that he had always been interested in the field of medical science. The visit took place at the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where human trials are currently being carried out in a University of Oxford study.
The Duke met some of the human volunteers taking part, described as “guinea pigs”.
Speaking to one woman who had volunteered to take part in the study, the Duke asked: “Were you just a willing guinea pig?”
It’s thought that across the UK, over 4,000 human participants are enrolled in the trials with a further 10,000 planned.
This is so that scientists can test the vaccine, known formally as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.
The Duke observed research being carried out by vaccine scientists.
Prince William wore multiple items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for most of his visit, including a mask, a protective coat, and goggles.
He is the first member of the Royal Family to do this since the Firm started embarking on visits in public again this month – and royal fans were quick to notice.
One fan posted: “A respectful man who wears his mask!
“This is what you do when you’re in a leadership role.”
READ: The surprising activity the Duke has taken up in lockdown
Prince William said he had always had an interest in medical science during the visit.
In addition to meeting the human volunteers, the Duke also met with Professor Sarah Gilbert – who is leading the trial – and Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the vaccine group.
Trials are also ongoing in South Africa and Brazil, and it’s hoped that a vaccine could be ready as soon as this year.
During his visit, Prince William said that if the Oxford team “cracked it”, then people would “breathe a huge sigh of relief”.
Before the visit took place, the Duke had met other researchers as part of a video call with Pascal Soriot – CEO of AstraZeneca – and Oxford University’s vice chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.
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The Duke also visited ambulance staff at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust this month.
The Duke told them that he thought the work they were doing was “fascinating”.
Professor Richardson later remarked that Prince William’s visit had been a “real shot in the arm” for the researchers involved.
Researchers generally have proceeded relatively quickly to human trials due to the urgency of the vaccine, according to Cruelty Free International – something the charity has praised.
The term ‘guinea pig’ as a reference to test subjects comes from the fact that actual guinea pigs have historically been widely used in the field of medical research as test subjects for scientific research.
Prince William and Kate Middleton are spending lockdown in their Norfolk home.
The RSPCA states that around 5,000,000 live animals including dogs, monkeys, rodents, rabbits, fish, and chickens are used in medicinal research every year in the EU and UK.
The Oxford researchers have so far used monkeys and pigs in their research to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, Prince William last week visited paramedics at King’s Lynn Ambulance station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk.
Whilst there, he thanked the ambulance crews for their work in reacting to the Covid-19 outbreak in what was his first face-to-face royal engagement in months.
Talking COVID-19 vaccines :
The Duke of Cambridge visited the Oxford Vaccine Group today to learn about the progress made in protecting people against coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/zhlDsgIcAa
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) June 24, 2020
Hello! Magazine reported that the Duke had to pass a Covid-19 temperature test as well as wash his hands ahead of the meeting.
He said to the staff that he was “fighting the urge to shake hands”.
The Duke is a former East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot himself, and along with the Duchess of Cambridge has set up the Our Frontline initiative to provide mental health support to frontline and key workers.
Before leaving the ambulance station, he thanked the paramedics for their “sacrifices” and hard work, Hello! adds.