New book chronicles race to produce COVID-19 vaccines

Coronavirus Vaccine

(NewsNation Now) — A new book takes a closer look at some of the key players involved in getting the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured.

Brendan Borrell, the author of “The First Shots,” appeared on “Morning in America” to discuss the book that tells of female scientists playing a key role in producing the vaccines.

“One of my favorite characters, a woman I met earlier this year, Kizzmekia Corbett,” Borrell said. “She’s a black woman that grew up surrounded by tobacco fields in North Carolina and works her way up to the highest ranks of virology and vaccinology to play this critical role in the development of the Moderna vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.”

He talks about her spending 12, 14, 18 hours in the lab working on vaccinating mice.

“Her story is also sort of woven into the social fabric of what happened during the coronavirus outbreak when members of the Black community were disproportionately hit by the virus,” he said. “She was an important figure in the race.”

Borrell claims that it took several outsiders to make Operation Warp Speed, the push for vaccination, successful.

“It’s a complicated story, of course,” Borrell says. “But the irony is it is the players inside the nation’s Health Department, including Bob Kadlec, a former Air Force doctor and member of the intelligence community was running some secure office there called the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. I know that’s a mouthful. But he was on the verge of getting fired constantly. He was reviled by the media. And he comes around in mid-April when there’s nothing else left. And he joins with a guy at the FDA to propose Operation Warp Speed. His boss takes it his boss. Azar takes it to Kushner, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and the rest is history.”

Touching on Pfizer’s role in producing the vaccine, Borrell says, “People are surprised that the big pharma sort of sat on the sidelines. So the smaller competitors like Moderna were moving fast early in the race. It was only later that Pfizer hopped in and just really, you know, surprisingly fast performance to pull upfront and deliver the first vaccine to the nation.”

The book is being optioned as an HBO movie.

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