These volunteers are making short videos on TikTok and Instagram to explain their part in the vaccine effort.
Dr Ajay Verma is a Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician working at Kettering General Hospital (KGH) in Northamptonshire, UK. Ajay treats patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and other chronic Gastroenterological disorders. He is an advocate for COVID vaccines, regularly posting social media content on the safety, efficacy and importance of vaccination for the benefit of patients, and fellow health care professionals.
Ajay has clinical interests in inflammatory bowel diseases, and early colorectal cancer. He is also an active clinical researcher and is the research and development director at KGH and the Gastroenterology Speciality lead for NIHR East Midlands clinical research network. Ajay is also a chief clinical information officer, a role he enjoys as KGH endeavours to be one of the most digitally advanced hospitals in the UK. On a national level, Ajay is the chair of the New Consultants Committee at the Royal College of Physicians and sits on the SWiG (Supporting Woman in Gastroenterology) and Colorectal section committees for the British Society of Gastroenterology. Ajay is active on Twitter, regularly posting #GastroTwearls: educational Gastroenterological content for health care professionals and patients.
Ajay enjoys spending time with family, his wife Vini is an Interventional GI Radiologist, his son Luca is 6, his daughter Bella is 4. He is a sports fanatic – Football, Cricket, Tennis, American Football. He plays badminton to a reasonable standard (his assessment). He also loves reading books – especially when on holiday!
Leonie Mayer is a PhD student in the Emerging Infections Team under Professor Addo at the University Hospital and the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany. The team works on clinical trials of new vaccines against emerging infectious agents such as Ebola virus, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.
Leonie’s research is focused on understanding the T cell immune response after coronavirus infection or vaccination with different vaccine platforms. Before starting her PhD, she studied Vaccinology in Spain, France and Belgium as part of the Erasmus Mundus Master LIVE.
In her free time, Leonie likes to go hiking, painting and eating chocolate.
Dr. Anna Blakney is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the Shattock laboratory at Imperial College London. Her research focuses on the development of self-amplifying RNA as a vaccine platform, a novel type of RNA that is able to make copies of itself once it enters a cell. During the pandemic she has focused on the vaccine formulation and testing it in preclinical animal models to determine whether it was safe and immunogenic.
Natali Serafin a research scientist working at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Analytics (VIDA) research unit in South Africa. Natali’s expertise includes project management, epidemiology, and clinical medicine. She is currently managing a sentinel Covid-19 surveillance taking place at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto.
Ahmad is the Director of the Genomics Center at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital and an Associate Professor of Genetics at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences in the United Arab Emirates. Ahmad is a leading figure in driving efforts to characterize the epidemiological and genomic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, identify host genetics factors and RNA expression profiles modulating COVID-19 disease severity in the UAE.
Dr Meenal Viz, Dr Nishant Joshi and baby Radhika are the Joshi trio who have been campaigning for healthcare workers throughout the pandemic. Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, Dr Meenal Viz was the pregnant protester outside Downing Street when Radhika was a foetus. The protest gained worldwide media attention and now Meenal and Nishant hope to use their platform to spread positivity, hope, and help clear any misunderstandings around the vaccine. Changing the world one TikTok at a time!
Nishant works in General Practice and has played a big role in working with local communities to start important dialogue around the vaccines. He has seen the impact of the virus on ethnic minority groups and has been working closely with community leaders to share informed messages around the vaccine. Meenal has been working from home with Radhika, focusing on campaigns to help inform women who are either pregnant, planning to be pregnant, or breastfeeding to make informed choices around the vaccine.
Outside of work, Nishant is a bassist and writes songs about social injustice with his band, The Palpitations (and Baby Radhika is Nishant’s biggest fan). While Meenal has her own podcast, ‘Meenal’s World’, where she interviews trailblazers every week and hopes to educate and empower women across the world.
Jeanine du Plessis is a medical scientist working at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Analytics (VIDA) research unit in South Africa. Currently she is working on multiple Covid-19 related studies including sentinel hospital surveillance, adult and paediatric Covid-19 associated mortality study and the Oxford vaccine trial – ChadOx-1. She has laboratory experience in forensic toxicology, microbiology and molecular biology.
Dr Andrea Mazzella, MRCP (UK), is a Research Physician working in the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre, and one of the investigators of three Phase III clinical trials investigating the Janssen, Novavax and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines for Covid-19. His role involves discussing the trials with volunteers, assessing their eligibility and conducting follow-up and pharmacovigilance with hundreds of trial participants.
After qualifying from medical school in Italy with an Erasmus exchange programme in Spain, Andrea moved to England to work as a doctor in the NHS. Once he completed Core Medical Training, he studied at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for a master’s degree in Epidemiology. It was during this year that the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded; he graduated and decided to join the team of researchers working on COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
Andrea grew up on a tiny island in the Mediterranean and loves returning home and sailing. He has a geeky passion for linguistics and is powered by dark chocolate and nonna’s struffoli.
Follow the people working on all aspects of science that will make these coronavirus vaccines safe and effective
Team Halo is an effort to support and celebrate the inspiring collaboration between scientists all over the world to help us end this pandemic with safe and effective vaccines.
The ‘halo’ represents the ring of connected science that circles the globe.
All participation is voluntary. If you’re involved in the vaccine search and would like to be listed on this site, please get in touch.
Team Halo was established in partnership with the The Vaccine Confidence Project at the University of London’s school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It is proud to collaborate with the UN Verified Initiative and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Support is provided by Luminate, IKEA Foundation and the Global Challenges Foundation.