Lakshmi Mittal, steel magnate and CEO of Arcelor Mittal has donated 3.2 million pounds to Oxford Jenner Institute which is currently testing the efficacy of its coronavirus vaccine. The institute said that the "generous gift" from Mittal will assist in securing the future of a critical professorship in vaccinology. That post from hereon will be known as 'Lakshmi Mittal and family Professorship of Vaccinology' in recognition of his support. Currently Professor Adrian Hill holds the position.
Talking about the endowment, Lakshmi Mittal said that this year has been a wake-up call to the world to be better prepared for pandemics. He said that Professor Hill's work is not only extraordinary but essential.
"Having always had a keen interest in healthcare, like many I was following with great interest the work on potential vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. After a fascinating conversation with Professor Hill, my family and I concluded that the work he and his team are doing is not only extraordinary but essential, not just for this current crisis but for other challenges we may face in the future. The importance of dedicated and ongoing research in this field cannot be overestimated and we are delighted to be supporting this vaccinology professorship at Oxford," he said.
Professor Hill is the principal investigator of the human trials of the Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine. The university is partnering with AstraZeneca to manufacture coronavirus vaccine candidate. In fact, some positive news is expected from the first phase trials of the Oxford corona vaccine this week. The researchers said that they were encouraged by the immune response witnessed in the trials so far and are aiming to publish the data of Phase I by end of July.
Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division thanked Mittal and his family for their support to secure the future of the 'pivotal leadership post'. "The University can continue to deliver and grow its world-leading vaccine research and focus on pandemic preparedness. The results of this work will have a significant impact on people's lives around the world and will enable humanity to respond with even greater speed to the next global pandemic," he added.
Jenner Institute is a leader in vaccine development. It had first started developing vaccine for the Ebola outbreak in 2014, with Professor Hill at the helm. ArcelorMittal was the founding member of the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group that coordinated response from the private sector against the outbreak.