One of London’s richest tycoons, Lakshmi Mittal, today donated £3.5 million to Oxford University’s vaccine development work as it leads the fight against coronavirus.
The steel billionaire is making an endowment for the post of professor of vaccinology, currently held by Professor Adrian Hill.
Professor Hill this week said he hoped to be delivering a vaccine by October.
His team’s jab is the furthest along of all the covid vaccines in development and is currently undergoing human trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.
Professor Hill is the director of the Oxford Jenner Institute and led the first clinical trial of a vaccine aimed at controlling Ebola in West Africa in 2014. The programme triggered a move by the institute to develop more vaccines for outbreak pathogens.
His post will now be known as the Lakshmi Mittal and Family Professorship of Vaccinology.
As well as leading the institute, Professor Hill’s own vaccine research programme has developed a potential vaccine for malaria, which is currently in large-scale trials in sub-Saharan Africa.
The university will add £1.75 million in matched funding to the gift, creating a permanent endowment of the post.
Kensington-based Mittal said: “This year has been a wake-up call to the world to be better prepared for pandemics, which, as we have all experienced, can cause massive social and economic disruption.
“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.”