Nobel-winning mRNA pioneer Weissman now wants to defeat Covid forever

Nobel Prize recipient Drew Weissman claims that at 64, he is just “speeding up,” from creating a one-and-done coronavirus vaccine to combating false information and widespread vaccine inequality.

The immunologist from the University of Pennsylvania received the highest honor in medicine on Monday for his groundbreaking studies on messenger RNA, which is the science behind the Covid-19 vaccines that altered the path of the epidemic.

“What happened is I got a cryptic text from Kati around four in the morning,” he said in an interview with AFP, referring to his old friend, collaborator and Nobel co-winner Katalin Kariko.

The Nobel committee had informed her that they had finally been chosen after being passed over for the prior couple of years, but they weren’t certain it was true until the announcement.

“We were wondering if somebody was pulling a prank on us!” he said.

The honors have been piling up for Weissman: the Lasker Award, the Breakthrough Prize, and many more — though he says the Nobel was always the “ultimate,” something he had dreamed of since the age of five, when he first became interested in how things work.

He may be excused for thinking about a well-earned retirement having just turned 64 and having assisted in taming a virus that is said to have killed an estimated seven million people globally.

Weissman contends that there is still a lot of work to be done. He said in jest, “I’m speeding up and my wife and family aren’t happy about it. “I’m in a great place.”

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