/Real life Professor Snape goes viral for leading COVID-19 vaccine study

Real life Professor Snape goes viral for leading COVID-19 vaccine study

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 late actor Alan Rickman, is the potions master at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Dr. Matthew Snape is an associate professor in pediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford. He’s on a mission to use new vaccine technology that has the potential to boost protections against Covid-19. Specifically, Snape’s current trial focuses on the potential for COVID-19 vaccines to be mixed with various formulas for the first and second doses to boost overall efficacy.

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Snape is hopeful that the study could help speed up the inoculation process by proving that a “mixed schedule” of vaccine doses provides a strong immune response, he told the Evening Standard.

“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,” Snape said in a February press release from Oxford.

As social media users caught wind that a 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 the following:

It seems that our Professor Snape is trending…

We’d like to confirm our Snape is NOT a ‘Dark Arts’ professor. He mostly works in paediatrics and vaccinology, and on the #OxfordVaccine.

He’s also a lot friendlier ?. pic.twitter.com/5uAOMJa4uN

— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford)

Apparently, it’s not the first time the uniquely 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, launched in February using Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, would be expanded 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 calls the “straight” schedules for these vaccines, he told the Standard. This study has previously only been tested on mice, so taking the next step to involve human data will bring more answers that the trial is hoping for.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.