It’s the explosive outbreak that’s affected the planet and silently wreaked havoc. The only way to triumph over the threat of COVID-19 is a vaccine. But what does it take to create a vaccine in record time to once and for all eradicate a global pandemic? What measures are in place to ensure its safety? And how did the world’s leading doctors and healthcare experts develop it? It may be the most important scientific achievement of our time – and the story isn’t over yet. Discovery’s timely special, The Vaccine: Conquering COVID examines all of this and more next month.
Set against the backdrop of a rising global death count and a pandemic that has left the world on edge, the special goes behind the scenes of the race for a vaccine and features interviews with the world’s leading doctors involved including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; and Dr. John Mascola of the National Institutes of Health, as well as interviews with scientists from leading pharmaceutical companies including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.
The documentary also features Professor Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist and virologist from the University of Sydney, Australia. On 10 January, 2020, Professor Yong-Zhen Zhang, Professor Holmes’ colleague in China, shared the genome sequence of the new virus with him after obtaining a sample. Knowing its significance to the scientific community, Professor Holmes published the genome sequence of the COVID-19 pathogen on Twitter in a tweet that’s regarded as ‘the post that saved the world’. Within minutes, an immediate reaction followed, and what’s now seen as the start of the race towards finding a vaccine.
Dr. Syra Madad, Infectious Diseases epidemiologist; Dr. Gregory Glenn, President of Research and Development at Novavax; Dr. Nita Patel, Senior Director at Novavax, and more experts weigh in on COVID-19 throughout the special.
The special also details the heroic efforts of early trial volunteers, including Jen Haller, a Seattle resident who became the first person in the United States to receive the Moderna vaccine. Viewers will hear firsthand accounts from those at the forefront of the pandemic as well as from leaders such Colorado Governor Jared Polis who details the strategy behind successfully rolling out and distributing the vaccines to the masses and the hurdles leaders are facing along the way.
After claiming the lives of more than 2 million people globally and sickening nearly 93 million, one solution has become the only clear path to conquering this complicated, complex virus and giving the world hope again – finding the vaccine.
In what would become one of the most extraordinary scientific accomplishments in a generation, the early development of the COVID-19 vaccines has not only given the world reason to hope an end to the pandemic is near, but that life will soon return back to somewhat normal. The race for a vaccine has also revolutionised the process in creating a vaccine – following a timeline that many considered impossible.
With new challenges at every turn – including early hurdles with clinical trials and the enormous financial risks – the race to develop a successful vaccine does not have a guaranteed winner. All the while, the traditional rules are being re-written along the way.