Royals Prince Harry Said 'All We Wanted' About COVID-19 Vaccine, Say Oxford Scientists at British 'GQ' Awards Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the GQ Heroes of the Year award on Wednesday to honor the University of Oxford scientists behind the life-saving AstraZeneca vaccine By Phil Boucher Phil Boucher Phil Boucher is an editor at PEOPLE and based in London. People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 2, 2021 01:40 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: John Phillips/Getty Prince Harry picked up some unexpected new fans from his surprise appearance at the 2021 British GQ Men of Year Awards on Wednesday. The Duke of Sussex, 36, appeared live from his California home at the London-based event to present the GQ Heroes of the Year award to Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Dr. Catherine Green and the rest of the University of Oxford team behind the life-saving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. "Until every community can access the vaccine, and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk," Harry said from his Montecito home while wearing a cool black velvet tuxedo. Now the world-leading scientists have applauded the prince's remarks. "We didn't know that was going to happen. Suddenly Prince Harry's on stage!" Dr. Green said about the Duke's surprise appearance. "He said all of the things we wanted to say about the necessity to get vaccines to the world for people irrespective of their ability to pay. A really important message." Dame Sarah added, "We're not going to be safe until everybody is safe and it's really important to get the vaccine to everybody around the world." The Oxford team first started to create their COVID-19 vaccine in January 2020 without knowing if it would ever work or even be needed. Prince Harry. Joe Giddins - WPA Pool/Getty Since then more than 1 billion doses have been released to more than 170 countries on a not-for-profit basis, making mass rollout far more affordable and achievable for low- and middle-income countries. "The Oxford team have done their part," Harry added about this altruistic commercial decision. "They are heroes of the highest order who gave us an instrument to fight this disease. They are our nation's pride, and we are deeply indebted to their service." Turning his fire on the widespread skepticism over the vaccine, the Duke also spoke out about the "mass-scale misinformation across news media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn is dividing communities and eroding trust." "This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants," he added. Regé-Jean Page. Brett D. Cove / SplashNews.com Despite being on the receiving end of a prince's kind words about their role in saving countless lives, the scientists couldn't help being a little starstruck at the glitzy event, which also honored Ed Sheeran, Anthony Hopkins, Quentin Tarantino and former Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page. "The whole thing has been pretty surreal really because the dude from Bridgerton is here," Dr. Green joked afterward. "We don't expect to be part of this kind of event," added Gilbert. "Science has always been cool to me. We want everyone else to think that science is cool because it can change your life in a very good way." Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! She recalled, "I always wanted to be a scientist when I was a schoolgirl — I didn't see why I wouldn't be. It's not always easy to see how that career's going to pan out, but I hope that more women will consider it now." "It's also great fun to do," added Green. "It's a great career, it's creative and dynamic, you work with brilliant people. What's not to like?" "Tonight's very strange," she continued. "To go from lockdown to this, that's not quite what we expected to be doing in 2021. But we'll be back in the lab tomorrow." Agreed Gilbert, "We'll get back to doing what we normally do." As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.