COVID-19: Barbie creates doll of Oxford vaccine designer Sarah Gilbert to inspire girls

COVID-19: Barbie creates doll of Oxford vaccine designer Sarah Gilbert to inspire girls

American Barbie maker, Mattel, has created a doll in honour of the scientist who designed the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, Prof (Dame) Sarah Gilbert, BBC reports.

Sarah, a vaccinologist, who was recognised with a damehood in the Queen's Birthday Honours – began designing a coronavirus vaccine in early 2020 when Covid first emerged in China.

Her creation, the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, is in high demand across the world, with doses sent to more than 170 countries.

When she was presented with the doll, a concerned Sarah initially found the creation "very strange" – but hoped it would inspire children.

"My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist," she said.

"I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into Stem careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realise how vital careers in science are to help the world around us," said Dame Sarah.

BBC further reported that her Barbie was one of six to honour women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The remaining five include an Australian medic who helped create a reusable gown for health workers, and a Brazilian biomedical researcher.

Reports say the sales of Barbie dolls had risen to a six-year high in 2020, especially at the height of the pandemic when parents made some panic buying by stocking up on toys for their children.

Toymaker Mattel has also courted backlash, in recent years, over the unrealistic image of womanhood of its Barbie doll.

In response to the criticism, the company now offers dolls themed around careers such as a firefighter, doctor and astronaut – and in a range of skin tones beyond its original white, blonde doll that first launched in 1959.