Vaccine Victory: How People You Have Never Heard of Changed Everything
Thank you will never be enough. Recent data suggests that the United States is turning the corner on the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, and the number of cases and deaths have significantly dropped in the last few weeks. And as the unofficial kick off to summer approaches and Americans enjoy a barbeque without a mask in tow, our gratitude for those people who made our mask-less picnics possible and who continue to allow people to return to the office, hug their grandparents, and get back to life as they know it is immense.
The Great Minds Behind the Mission
Katalin Karikó. Noubar Afeyan. Kathrin Jansen. Although these are not household names, these scientists have changed the course of history with their tireless work to create a vaccine for Covid-19. Although each of them has faced a career of doors closing, money running out, and countless dead ends, the fact that the world is slowly inching its way out from the clutches of the pandemic is all a testament to these dedicated scientists. Interestingly enough, many of the prime leaders at Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are immigrants.
“I think of innovation as a form of intellectual immigration. You leave your comforts behind you. You face unrecognizable challenges. You take nothing for granted. You don’t feel like in your new country people owe you anything,” said Afeyan, Chairman of Moderna.
And clearly, these scientists are nothing short of miraculous in the face of the unknown. Kathrin Jansen, who previously had forged the Gardasil vaccine for HPV, is now in charge of research and development at Pfizer.
“She is fearless at taking on any project that she thinks is important and is not afraid to plunge in and figure out what needs to be done,” Scolnick said. “In industry, that is not always the case, because many projects fail and people in that setting worry about their job. Whether they’ll be demoted, fired, passed over. She just doesn’t think about that,” said Edward Scolnick, who ran Merck’s research labs and worked extensively with Jansen.
And because of Jansen’s hard work, over 1.68 billion Pfizer vaccination shots have been administered throughout the globe, allowing the world to slowly emerge…