The prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine for this year has been awarded to Hungarian scientist Katalin Karikó and American researcher Drew Weissman. 🥼 They are being honored for their groundbreaking work that paved the way for the creation of 'effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19'. 🦠
Historically, vaccines were formulated using inactivated viruses, as seen in the cases of polio and measles. By exposing individuals to these, their immune systems could be trained to combat the actual virus. 🛡️
Karikó and Weissman's revolutionary discovery was the potential to craft vaccines using a virus's genetic blueprint, known as messenger-RNA (mRNA). They observed that certain cells treated the mRNA as an invader, subsequently producing antibodies to counteract it. This revelation was shared with the world in a 2005 publication. 📖
Building on their foundational research, pharmaceutical companies in the subsequent years formulated vaccines against diseases like the Zika virus and MERS. When the coronavirus emerged in 2019, their pioneering work enabled the rapid development of the first vaccine within approximately a year. ⏰
🌍 A Global Impact
According to the Nobel Committee, their discovery contributed to "the swift pace of vaccine development during one of the most significant health crises in recent history." The jury believes that mRNA vaccines have "saved millions of lives and prevented severe health complications for countless more, allowing societies to inch closer to normalcy."
🤔 Public Perception
While the Nobel Committee doesn't anticipate that vaccine skeptics will change their stance due to this award, they hope that those on the fence might be persuaded of the vaccines' 'efficacy and safety'.
💰 Prize Details
The laureates will not only gain the recognition associated with the award but will also share a cash prize of approximately 950,000 euros. Additionally, they will be presented with a medal and a certificate. The award ceremony is slated for December 10, commemorating the death anniversary of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the namesake of the awards.
Traditionally, the Nobel Prize in Medicine is the first to be announced. In the upcoming days, other categories like physics (Tuesday), chemistry (Wednesday), literature (Thursday), peace (Friday), and economics (next Monday) will also unveil their winners. 📅