The amazing story of the race for a coronavirus vaccine will be told in a landmark international exhibition next year.
Curators from the Science Museum - which has itself served as a vaccine centre - have teamed up with experts in China and India to put on the show.
The museum has already started collecting items from the pandemic and among the exhibits going on show when it reopens will be the empty vial that held the first ever dose of the vaccine given to Margaret Keenan in December.
Museum managing director Jonathan Newby said the vial, which contained the first Pfizer jab used in a mass vaccination programme, was going to be thrown away until their curators stepped in to ensure it was donated to them by the NHS.
He said: “That’s the job our curators do. So we rang round, pulled lots of strings and got to speak to the right people and not quite at the last minute but the day before said please, please, please do not put these in the bin and so they were saved”.
Among the other “day to day ephemera” collected by the museum are signs used at Downing Street press conferences urging viewers to “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”.
The international exhibition, which has a working title of Hunt for the Vaccine, is set to open in November 2022 in China and India as well as the museum followed by a national tour.
Mr Newby said: “It tells that amazing story from effectively February 2020 and in particular how the team at Oxford but teams right across the world worked at such a furious pace with energy and commitment and ingenuity and everything that we all believe human beings are capable of at their very, very best particularly when deploying science and technology and how they developed the Covid vaccine in record time and they got it out there and then initiated these amazing vaccine rollout programs that were all completely in awe of”.
He said a by-product of the world’s struggle to contain the pandemic had been a “raising of scientific literacy” among the general public.
He said: “We’re very used to putting complex scientific principles and ideas over, telling the stories of great inventions in everyday language so to some extent it’s made our job quite a bit easier because we are able to use those tools we’ve honed over decades and decades and that level of engagement is now that much greater”.