British theatre mogul Andrew Lloyd Webber has put himself forward to trial an experimental coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine as part of a new medical trial developed by the University of Oxford.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday to explain his decision, the 72-year-old wrote: “I am excited that tomorrow I am going to be vaccinated for the Oxford COVID 19 trial. I’ll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely.”
The trial, which has been developed by the prestigious university as well as drug company AstraZeneca, includes the use of an experimental vaccine which is “made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees” and “appears safe and triggers an immune response,” according to BBC.
It comes following Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh speaking out about the lack of support in the UK for the theatre industry, with Mackintosh penning an essay in The Evening Standard in late July that read in part:
“With no endgame to this crisis in sight, last week I had to follow through with the awful distressing downsizing of my organisation [sic] to ensure my company’s survival.”
“On top of this, Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently had to shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future,” Mackintosh continued.
“Despite the recent announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue fund for the arts, this help still hasn’t materialised. When COVID hit, all my eight theatres were packed with hit shows including some of my own.”
“So as by far the largest independent employer in the West End it is not surprising that as both theatre owner and producer, with no outside investors, I’ve taken a huge financial hit.”
Responding to Mackintosh’s column, Andrew Lloyd Webber remained positive that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel, tweeting: “As far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible.”