Even though the Covid-19 pandemic is mostly over, I still remember the start of it the long wait to get my vaccine shot, how I had to convince people around me to get the vaccine while still having friends being skeptical about it. This year, people behind the mRNA Covid vaccine got a Nobel prize in medicine! If you want to learn more about their story, their work and the whole (very bumpy) journey how the mRNA technology came to be I encourage you to read this book: “A Shot To Save The World” by Gregory Zuckerman: An inside story of life-or-death race for a COVID-19 vaccine (Amazon / Audible).
A Shot To Save The World - persistence of unlikely heroes!
The book summary says it all:
It was up to a small group of unlikely and untested scientists and executives to save civilization. A French businessman dismissed by many as a fabulist. A Turkish immigrant with little virus experience. A quirky Midwesterner obsessed with insect cells. A Boston scientist employing questionable techniques. A British scientist despised by his peers. Far from the limelight, each had spent years developing innovative vaccine approaches. Their work was met with skepticism and scorn.
They never gave up. They believed in the new technology. They persisted:
By 2020, these individuals had little proof of progress. Yet they and their colleagues wanted to be the ones to stop the virus holding the world hostage. They scrambled to turn their life’s work into life-saving vaccines in a matter of months, each gunning to make the big breakthrough - and to beat each other for the glory that a vaccine guaranteed.
Now they got a Nobel Prize for the mRNA technology!
First I had a chance to appreciate their work by just getting the shot myself, later I appreciated it even more when I read the book. Now I see it all came together as two of the scientists featured in the book got a Nobel prize in medicine.
The discoveries by the two Nobel Laureates were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020. Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.
Now the cool thing is that not only they saved millions of lives but also gave prominence again to the mRNA technology which can be used not only to produce much more modern vaccines, but also help us literally cure cancer:
The impressive flexibility and speed with which mRNA vaccines can be developed pave the way for using the new platform also for vaccines against other infectious diseases. In the future, the technology may also be used to deliver therapeutic proteins and treat some cancer types.
Read the book - there are more protagonists there! 💉
These two are just the two people out of many who contributed to the race to get the vaccines out. Read the book - it’ll read like a thriller and you’ll see a journey of those who against all odds contributed to a technology that helped us save lives and get us back to some sense of normality after the COVID-19 pandemic.