THE scientists behind the world-leading Oxford vaccine have said they were fuelled by “Mini Cheddars and Bounty Bars” as they worked 18-hour days with supermarket shelves bare and canteens closed in the height of lockdown.

Other colleagues working from home also juggled vital research with home-schooling – like thousands of other parents in 2020.  

The award-winning team spoke to The Daily Mirror after winning the Special Recognition category Pride of Britain award on Saturday. It will be aired on ITV tomorrow night (at 8pm).

Oxford Vaccine team win Pride of Britain Awards

The awards show decided to recognise the researchers from Oxford University and thank them for giving "us our lives back, and [creating] the most potent weapon against Covid in the developing world".

This Special Recognition award applauds the efforts of Professor Sarah Gilbert and her team who have been working for years preparing for "Disease X" - an unknown illness that would require the vaccine.

But Sarah told the paper: “The idea of having to live through a pandemic while we developed a vaccine to get us out of a pandemic?

“We hadn’t planned for that.”

So, like the rest of us, they had to navigate the hard ships of lockdown from social distancing to low supplies of toilet roll – all while desperately trying to develop a vaccine, the only way to get us out of a pandemic quickly.

The award is a tribute to all of the team's lockdown struggles, their 18-hour days with only vending machine food to keep them sustained.

Dr Catherine Green, a geneticist said: “We ate nothing by Mini Cheddars and Bounty Bars for two weeks solid.”

On Thursday, the awards will also acknowledge the team's efforts in not only developing the vaccine but how it became ready to be produced and delivered in unprecedented number after teaming up with drug giant AstraZeneca – who agreed to provide it at cost to make it accessible to developing nations.

By the end of July 2021, seven months after it was licenced, a billion doses of the Oxford vaccine had been delivered to more than 170 countries around the world.

When is the Pride of Britain Awards 2021?

The Pride of Britain Awards will be returning to our TV screens for another night on Thursday, November 4.

The awards show recognises and celebrates the achievements of incredible people from across the country will be broadcast on ITV at 8pm.

Carol Vorderman who has hosted the awards show for 22 years will be joined on stage by a new co-host, Ashley Banjo for the first time in its history.

More than 100 celebrities and public figures including HRH Prince Charles, Ant and Dec, Anne-Marie, Ed Sheeran, Pixie Lott, KSI, Harry Kane, Joanna Lumley OBE, Stephen Fry, Westlife, Jordan Pickford and Sharon Stone will appear.

These famous faces will pay tribute to the extraordinary achievements and the wonderful work being done by ordinary people in the UK.

The Pride of Britain Awards airs on ITV on Thursday November 4 2021 at 8pm.