In the U.S., quarantine started on March 11th, 2020. The Covid-19 vaccine was granted emergency use in early December. A vaccine was created, approved, and distributed in record time (about 10 months). So who created the vaccine? Here are the women who created the vaccine, the ones who directed the making of the vaccine, and the ones leading the efforts to get it distributed.
Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy, is one of the lead scientists in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine. She is a black woman who works in a field that is about 70% white and about 54%, male. ABC News says, “Corbett is an expert on the front lines of the global race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and someone who will go down in history as one of the key players in developing the science that could end the pandemic.” Kizzy Corbett is apart of a team that is working with the Moderna vaccine. On March 3rd, 2020 (before the pandemic) Corbett and other scientists at the NIH met with President Donald Trump. She participated in the conversations and here is what she said about it, “I felt like it was necessary to be seen and to not be a hidden figure so to speak. I felt that it was important to do that because of the level of visibility that it would have to younger scientists and also to people of color who have often worked behind the scenes and essentially who have done the dirty work for these large efforts toward a vaccine.” It is so inspiring to see a woman of color leading the research behind the Covid-19 vaccine.
Kathrin Jansen is head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, and she has been leading the development of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. She’s been with Pfizer since 2009. Jansen led the partnership with German company BioNTech to make the Covid-19 vaccine. She worked hard to get the vaccine approved fast. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, says he’s known Jansen for two decades. “I think of her as a capable scientist to lead something like this,” he says. She has led the development of multiple vaccines.
Sandra Lindsay is an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. She was the first person in the U.S. to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Several polls suggest that specifically, Black Americans are hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine. This is because of the long-standing distrust between the black community and the healthcare system. Lindsay, as a Black woman, took it upon herself to not only be the first person in the nation to get vaccinated but also to encourage Black Americans to take the vaccine.
Dr. Ozlem Tureci is a German Physician, immunologist, and businessperson. She and her husband, Dr. Ugur Sahin, founded BioNTech, which is a company that partnered with Pfizer to develop the Covid-19 vaccine. She is the chief medical director at BioNTech. Tureci’s achievements, such as researching mRNA (which is a huge part of the Covid-19 vaccine), have contributed to one of the biggest medical breakthroughs of our time. Tureci says that she is intrigued by the beauty of mathematics, science, and biology.
Thanks to these women and many others we will soon be safe from a strange virus that has taken over our lives. It is important to recognize who made the vaccine and those who helped distribute it as well. These people are role models for the young innovators who strive to be apart of groundbreaking science.