Professor Keith Godfrey has received his MBE, awarded for services to medicine during the COVID-19 response.
He was presented the honour by the Prince of Wales on Wednesday 8th June at a ceremony held at Windsor Castle.
Professor Godfrey said, “It is a huge honour to have been recognised in this way, but this really is a tribute to a truly dedicated team who worked tirelessly to mitigate the worst effects of the COVID epidemic on the most vulnerable in society.”
Professor Keith Godfrey led critical aspects of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These included advising on transmission through saliva droplets before symptoms develop, alongside conceiving and delivering the pivotal saliva test programme in Southampton that assisted the UK government in emerging from the COVID pandemic.
His drive and leadership in piloting effective, regular mass testing for COVID-19 before vaccines became available was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Keith added, “The team formed a strong partnership between the University of Southampton, the Aspire Community Trust, Southampton City Council, the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge and the NHS.
“Working together, we made enormous progress in developing saliva-based testing to reduce the risk of infection transmission in educational and other settings in Southampton, to give confidence to students, staff, parents and local communities, and informing national policy and coronavirus control measures elsewhere across the country.”
Professor Godfrey is a Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the University of Southampton and Honorary Consultant within the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. He is also a theme lead of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.
The programme pioneered regular at home self-sampling for COVID-19 using saliva, rather than uncomfortable and challenging nose and throat swabbing. This helped educational settings in the city identify and manage infections.
It also demonstrated the reliability of RT-LAMP testing technology that is cheaper and faster than standard PCR testing. The programme integrated laboratory and NHS data systems to return laboratory test results by text and in national test and trace systems.
In April 2020, Keith brought together a unique team to develop a testing solution to help ease restrictions. That team included experts in public health, social science, behavioural science, clinical data systems, education and infectious disease molecular biology.
The unique partnership spanned the Hampshire and Isle of Wight region. Partners piloted the approach in employer and educational settings, providing vital learning for the nation that was later applied in cities and testing approaches across the UK.