In March 2020, almost three months after the first case of Covid-19 was detected in Wuhan, China, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. The speed with which the virus spread led to a global lockdown, with even developed nations shutting down to control transmission.
Over the last ten months, as some nations slowly made their way to normalcy, others continued to operate as high-risk areas. Irrespective of where you stood on the risk spectrum, the reality was the same – a lack of normalcy till the threat of the virus could be eliminated once and for all. And that was possible only through the development and distribution of a vaccine.
While the latter may be a nation’s responsibility, scientists were tasked with the crucial task of developing a vaccine. And, in less than a year since the virus was declared a pandemic, the scientists delivered.
Because we now have a vaccine that has already been administered to a million people in the US, that has been preordered by nations that make up approximately 14% of the world’s population, and most importantly, that has once again given hope to millions. And it’s all thanks to the immeasurable efforts of scientists.
Currently, five vaccines, Tozinameran from Pfizer–BioNTech, BBIBP-CorV by Sinopharm, CoronaVac by Sinovac, mRNA-1273 by Moderna, and Gam-COVID-Vac by Gamaleya Research Institute, have been approved by National Health Agencies for public use, in less than a year.
To draw a simple comparison, in the past, vaccines against infectious diseases like Small Pox, Ebola, or the recent, Swine Flu, etc. have taken considerably more time to produce. Additionally, rarely, if ever, has more than one vaccine passed the requisite tests and trials to be approved for mass production.
While access to years of medical breakthroughs and scientific findings has naturally sped up the process of developing vaccines, it can, in no way, take away the effort, dedication, and hard work of the scientists who worked on developing these vaccines in record time.
As the companies these scientists worked for become household names, their contributions largely remain clouded in obscurity. In the case of Covid-19 vaccine too, Pfizer has emerged as the most commonly known manufacturer of the vaccine.
But scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, who actually developed the vaccine for Pfizer, are names few people, including those who have received the vaccination, are familiar with.
Then again, perhaps fame or recognition weren’t the top driving forces for Sahin, Tureci, and nameless other scientists who put their lives on hold to develop the vaccine. Perhaps, these scientists were indeed motivated by the desire to make the world a little safer, to help millions regain the simple but invaluable joy, like sharing a hug.
It is very important for us to find a fair process to divide the vaccine. The pandemic is very present everywhere. We will try to provide the doses in the different region. The price will be based on the economic strength of the respective region.
-Dr. Sahin to Strait Times
Through their tireless efforts, these scientists, and others like them, have not just given humanity a vaccine against the dreaded Covid-19 but rather, give us a reason to hope again. And the latter is truly invaluable.