A recent study of coronavirus vaccines led by Dr. Matthew Snape, a professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K., sent Twitter users and “Harry Potter” fans into a frenzy this week.
The coincidence of names spawned jokes and memes about the real-life Professor Snape in connection with the one from the “Harry Potter” books.
The fictional Professor Snape, who was played by the late actor Alan Rickman, is the potions master at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Dr. Matthew Snape is an associate professor of pediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford. He’s on a mission to use new vaccine technology that could boost protections against Covid-19. Specifically, Snape’s trial focuses on the potential to mix Covid-19 vaccines with various formulas for the first and second doses to boost overall efficacy.
Snape is hopeful that the study could help speed the inoculation process by proving that a “mixed schedule” of vaccine doses provides a strong immune response, he told the Evening Standard, a British newspaper.
Snape said in a news release from Oxford in February: “If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains.”
As social media users caught wind that Professor Snape was working on a coronavirus vaccine study, the news of the trial and a potentially groundbreaking scientific development provoked a response from eager “Harry Potter” fans on social media.
Even Oxford got in on the fun, tweeting:
Apparently, it’s not the first time the colorfully named professor has been reminded of the fictional reference.
“As a pediatrician with a famous namesake I do get lots of comments — most memorably ‘I thought you were dead!'” Snape told the Evening Standard.
It was announced Tuesday that the trial, which was launched in February using Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s vaccines, would expand to include the Moderna and Novavax formulas, according to the Evening Standard.
Dark magic or not, Snape is optimistic that combining both viral vector vaccines, as well as RNA vaccines, could cause a better immune response than what he called the “straight” schedules for the vaccines, he told the Evening Standard. The study has previously tested only mice, so taking the next step to involve human data could bring more answers.