Development of Covid-19 vaccines
“Through their groundbreaking findings, this year’s laureates have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system. They have contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times,” Sweden‘s Karolinska Institute said on Monday during the announcement ceremony.
The researchers published their results in a seminal 2005 paper that received little attention at the time but laid the foundation for critically important developments that have served humanity during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the institute.
The findings by Hungary-born Karikó and Weissman, from the US, led to the approval of two highly successful mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines in late 2020. The vaccines have saved millions of lives and prevented severe disease in many more.
The Medicine/Physiology Prize has over the years crowned groundbreaking discoveries like the X-ray, penicillin, insulin and DNA — as well as now-disgraced awards for the lobotomy and the insecticide DDT.
What is the Nobel prize?
The Nobel prizes, arguably the world’s most prestigious awards, will be announced throughout this week.
The prizes, with 11 million Swedish crowns (about $1 million) each, are also given for achievements in physics (October 3), chemistry (October 4), literature (October 5), and peace (October 6). The Nobel prize for economics will be announced on October 9.
The Nobel Prize was created by wealthy Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who in his will dictated that his estate should be used to fund “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”
Nobel died in 1895 but it took until 1901, following fighting over his will, before the first awards.
Nobel named the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to award the prizes for chemistry and physics, the Swedish Academy for literature, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute medical university for physiology or medicine, and the Norwegian parliament for peace.
The Nobel prizes are presented to the laureates on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death.
(With inputs from agencies)