Black scientist shares inspiring message after helping design COVID-19 vaccine: ‘Lives are about to be saved’

Megan Sims
·4 min read

One of the virologists that helped design Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine posed in front of the company’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., to provide a message of hope as the first doses were administered on Monday.

Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D., a 34-year-old virology researcher, celebrated the accomplishment on Instagram, writing, “Today, people will get vaccinated with a vaccine that I woke up on Jan. 11th to frantically help design.”

“I remember the day, in February, when mRNA-1273 arrived to our lab at NIAID Vaccine Research Center, and mice awaited in the basement for their injections,” she recalled. “At the time, we just had our sights on a phase 1 clinical trial by 100 days, with no idea the virus would spread into a pandemic. 66 days passed from the viral sequence release, and the first human was injected with the vaccine in a phase 1 trial.”

Now, nine months and 76,000,000 COVID-19 cases globally later, people are being administered the vaccine under an emergency use authorization. “Lives are about to be saved. Hospitals will become less overwhelmed. Normal times will slowly begin again,” she said.

The scientist went on to humorously add that she might rent out of the steps to have a party.

People took to Corbett’s comments to show how inspired they were by her post. “Black girl magic....let’s gooooo,” one person wrote. “I can’t wait to tell my daughter about you!” someone added. “Look it’s a Queen outchea saving our lives. Blessings to you,” another user commented.

On Twitter, Meena Harris, author and niece of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, shared a picture of Corbett along with a quote from her post calling it “the best thing I’ve read all day.”

Other commenters expressed their appreciation for the virologist calling her a “hero.”

While some expressed skepticism about the vaccine, Corbett, as well as many of her peers, are working doubly to quell fears, especially in the Black community. A June Pew Research Center survey found that 54 percent of Black adults have expressed confidence in the vaccine while 44 percent still expressed mistrust. After the Pfizer vaccine was rolled out last week, the first person to get it was a Black woman, a nurse, and her first dose was administered by a Black woman.

“There were so many layers in that imagery,” Dr. Uché Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity and a Yahoo Life medical contributor, told Yahoo Life. “I’m hoping that it helps engender some trust in the process that, here you have a Black woman nurse taking the vaccine and almost putting herself out there as an example for others.”

With Black and brown people continuing to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has continued to press the message that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“The first thing you might wanna say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine you're going to be taking was developed by an African American woman and that's just a fact," Fauci said referencing Corbett in a conference with several Black leaders earlier this month. "I think that's one of the things that people don't fully appreciate."

Fauci received his shot in Maryland on Tuesday morning.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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