Few people know, in the fight against Covid-19, the following three women have extremely strong power even though they are not politicians.
Sarah Gilbert – the woman behind the success of the AstraZeneca vaccine
Professor Sarah Gilbert – mother of three is the person behind the great success of the AstraZeneca vaccine development campaign. She is also one of the female scientists honored by the BBC in the list of 100 Outstanding Women in 2020 for their tireless contributions to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sarah Gilbert was born in 1962 in central England. The female professor grew up in a family where her father was an office worker and her mother was an English teacher. Ms. Gilbert graduated with a degree in biology from the University of East Anglia and then went on to pursue a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Hull. After graduation, Sarah Gilbert worked at a beer research center and focused on yeast control.
Later, she was one of the members of the research team at the Jenner Institute, Oxford University to start studies on an anti-malaria vaccine in 1994. In 1998, she gave birth to triplets and after taking a maternity leave. Mrs. Gilbert found it difficult to return to research. But fortunately her husband – scientist Rob Blundell – accepted to sacrifice his career, taking on the task of taking care of children so that his wife could continue her career.
“Work-life balance isn’t easy, and it can’t be if you don’t have good support.”
With her efforts, Sarah Gilbert was appointed lecturer at the University of Oxford in 1999 and then became an associate professor in 2004.
In 2007, Sarah Gilbert officially became the Strategic Program Manager for Human and Veterinary Vaccine Development of the Wellcome Trust.
In 2014, she led the first trial of a vaccine against Ebola. And when Middle East respiratory syndrome broke out, Mrs. Gilbert did not hesitate to go to Saudi Arabia to research and develop a vaccine.
When the covid-19 pandemic broke out, she continued to experiment to find a vaccine to solve this problem. The research of Mrs. Gilbert and her team achieved good results and of course they faced the opportunity to earn huge amounts of money. However, Ms. Gilbert hopes her research will help more people around the world have access to cheap vaccines: “From the beginning, we saw this as a race against the virus, not a race. race against other vaccine developers. We’re a university and we don’t do this to make money”, “As the inventor of this vaccine, I could make a huge profit. But I refuse to accept the patent. I don’t want to monopolize the patent because I want to share this technology so that everyone can make a vaccine.”
Currently, countries can buy AstraZeneca vaccine for less than 3 USD/dose, much cheaper than other vaccines on the market. The company AstraZeneca also promises to provide maximum support to help developing countries and poor countries have access to vaccines.
Dr. Ozlem Tureci – who together with her husband invented the Pfizer vaccine
Dr. Ozlem Tureci is the one who accompanied her husband in the search for a vaccine against Covid-19 raging in the world. The scientist couple Tureci are both immigrants from Turkey to Germany. Tureci is the daughter of a surgeon. She met Mr. Ugur Sahin at Saarland University in Homburg and has collaborated since.
In 2001, this research passionate couple founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals Company with the desire to develop antibodies to prevent cancer.
After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ozlem Tureci and her colleagues stopped all other work to focus on vaccine research with the goal of having a vaccine by the end of 2020. On November 9, after When Pfizer announced that the Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective, the stock price of BioNTech – the company of Dr. Ozlem Tureci and his wife reached a valuation of nearly $ 25 billion.
“Many of us don’t have vacations and work through the weekend, which is why we were able to. We are also available for different time zones, we meet regularly with Pfizer in the US and with Chinese partners”, Ms. Tureci once shared.
According to the weekly Welt am Sonntag (Germany), Dr. Ozlem Tureci and his wife are on the list of the 100 richest people in Germany.
Aurélia Nguyen – Executive Director of the global vaccine sharing program COVAX
Ms. Aurélia Nguyen – Executive Director of COVAX global vaccine sharing program – is a French woman of Vietnamese origin. In this position, she is responsible for coordinating and delivering vaccines to participating countries through the Covax program to ensure fair and equal access to Covid-19 vaccines.
TIME magazine once wrote about her as follows:
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the world’s health is in the hands of Aurélia Nguyen. Nguyen’s job, as COVAX chief executive officer, is to ensure a life-saving and pandemic-ending vaccine is developed against the virus. Covid-19 reaches as many people around the world as possible.Public health officials say that in today’s connected world, an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. So, only by immunizing nearly everyone on the planet can we build a human immune wall that is harder for viruses to penetrate.
Nguyen oversees $6 billion in commitments from 98 wealthier countries to support COVAX, a joint effort of the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi – Alliance Vaccines. Since November 2020, she has led COVAX’s mission to secure and distribute free vaccines to nearly 92 countries whose smaller healthcare budgets leave them with no vaccination orders. COVAX is competing with wealthier nations that are also looking to secure their own vaccine doses, and Nguyen admits things are ‘not easy’. But by 2021, she predicts COVAX will distribute 2 billion doses to countries including India, Brazil and Nigeria.”
Before becoming “the man in the hands of the health of the world”, Ms. Aurélia held the position of Executive Director in charge of Vaccines and Sustainability of GAVI. From 1999 to 2010 she worked in the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline – rated as the top in the UK.
Ms. Aurélia studied for a Master’s degree at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics.
TIME magazine also honored her as one of the “100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leaders”.
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