The Nobel Prize in Medicine Goes to the Scientists Behind the COVID Vaccine


When COVID-19 emerged, the world was desperate for a vaccine. Luckily, scientists had been quietly working on new mRNA technology for decades that allowed vaccines to be developed with unprecedented speed. This week, the Nobel Committee recognized the scientists behind this groundbreaking work.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to biochemist Katalin Karikó and immunologist Drew Weissman for their discoveries enabling mRNA vaccines. You know, like the Pfizer and Moderna COVID shots that have gone into billions of arms worldwide.

Karikó and Weissman spent years trying to figure out how to deliver mRNA into cells without the immune system breaking it down. This led to a breakthrough discovery – swapping out one ingredient in mRNA stopped the unwanted immune reaction.

This opened the door for using mRNA to fight disease. When COVID hit, companies like BioNTech and Moderna used Karikó and Weissman’s technology to develop safe, highly effective vaccines in record time. Over 90% of Americans have gotten an mRNA shot.

Karikó’s story is especially inspiring. She grew up in communist Hungary and moved to the U.S. as a postdoc in 1985. She struggled for years to get funding and recognition for her work on mRNA. Now her perseverance has paid off with a Nobel Prize.

At a time when some question the value of science, this prize reminds us how important basic research can be. Funding unsung scientists like Karikó and Weissman eventually led to a whole new class of vaccines that have saved millions of lives. Discoveries like this take time and can’t be rushed.

So the next time you get your annual COVID booster, think of the scientists who spent decades meticulously unlocking the secrets of mRNA. Their work is proof that groundbreaking innovations often start with basic research – we just don’t know it yet. Karikó and Weissman truly deserve this honor.

Chinonso Anyaehie

Chinonso Anyaehie

Chinonso Anyaehie is a leading voice exploring the societal impacts of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. As founder of the popular technology blog DecentraPress, Chinonso Anyaehie complex innovations like blockchain, robotics, and AI, transforming dense research into accessible, engaging stories.

With over 7 years of experience as a science and tech writer, Chinonso Anyaehie provides thoughtful analysis on how bleeding-edge breakthroughs are reshaping our world. He delves into the progress and pitfalls of exponential technologies through an accessible, human-centric lens.

In addition to running DecentraPress, Chinonso Anyaehie is a frequent contributor to major tech publications and conferences. He is committed to fostering nuanced conversations on how we ethically steer emerging advances for the benefit of humanity.

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