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New Barbie dolls honor COVID-19 heroes, including a vaccine scientist

Mattel miniaturizes six workers who've contributed to the world during the pandemic.

Sarah Gilbert and her look-alike Barbie.  
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

What do a nurse who treated a city's first COVID-19 patient, a doctor who advocated against anti-Asian racism, and a scientist who helped develop a COVID vaccine have in common? For one, they've all made indisputably good contributions during the ongoing pandemic. But they've also been miniaturized into new Barbie dolls. 

One of them honors Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology who led the development of the University of Oxford vaccine in the UK. Another honors emergency room nurse Amy O'Sullivan, who treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn, New York, and became sick herself, needing to be intubated. She returned to work a few weeks later to continue helping others. 

"Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened," Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, said in a statement. "To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie's platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back."

The six dolls are one of a kind and won't be for sale, according to Mattel. But Barbie does sell several nurse, doctor, scientist and paramedic career dolls. In 2019, the company added an astrophysicist, entomologist and polar marine biologist to its lineup of dolls representing STEM fields. 


In addition to Gilbert and O'Sullivan, Audrey Sue Cruz, a frontline worker from Nevada, and Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, got Barbie look-alikes. Cruz worked with other Asian-American physicians during the pandemic to fight discrimination and racial bias, and Oriuwa has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, something further highlighted by the pandemic, Mattel says. 

Jaqueline Goes de Jesus and Kirby White round out the toy lineup. Goes de Jesus is a biomedical researcher credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil. White is a general practitioner in Australia who co-founded an initiative that provides reusable washable medical gowns to general practitioners across the country.