Potions master: Scientist in charge of mix and match Covid vaccine trial is called... Professor Snape

Barney Davis
·2-min read
<p>Alan Rickman, right, as the fictional Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films</p> (Warner Brothers)

Alan Rickman, right, as the fictional Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films

(Warner Brothers)

As Hogwarts’ potions master, Professor Severus Snape told students that by mixing mysterious and magical substances he could teach them how to “bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death”.

Now, a real-life Professor Snape is overseeing a different kind of creative concoction in the hope of boosting protection against Covid-19.

Matthew Snape, associate professor in paediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford, is leading a major UK trial investigating whether coronavirus vaccines can be mixed with different jabs for first and second doses.

On Tuesday it was announced that the trial, which was launched in February using Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, would be expanded to include the Moderna and Novavax jabs.

Prof Snape hopes the study could help up speed up the inoculation process by proving that a “mixed schedule” of vaccine doses provides a strong immune response.

But news of the trial’s expansion was hijacked on social media by users rejoicing in life imitating JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe.

Prof Snape told the Standard: “As a paediatrician with a famous namesake I do get lots of comments — most memorably ‘I thought you were dead!’”

One Twitter user wrote: “Professor snape ?? 2 things. Has hogwarts been notified and does draco know so he can go help him.”

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Another said: “And the man leading the mixing is called PROFESSOR SNAPE. This is already a good day.”

One fan added: “Professor Snape is back teaching potions For Real.”

On the vaccine trial, Prof Snape said: “There are some suggestions from studies in mice that using schedules with both viral vector vaccines and RNA vaccines could induce a better immune response than the ‘straight’ schedules, but there are no data in humans yet, which is why we are doing this study.

“These studies were planned well in advance of the recent developments regarding the AZ vaccine, but part of their rationale was to provide flexibility in case of unexpected developments….and of course that makes them timely at present.”

The volunteers, who will have received either the Oxford/AstraZeneca, or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, will be randomly allocated to receive either the same vaccine for their second dose, or a dose of the jabs produced by Moderna or Novavax.

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