How to build an mRNA vaccine …
The COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines made by Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna have rapidly become two of the most important and profitable vaccines in history. But their development was built on wide-ranging research going back decades. Dozens of academic labs and companies have worked to find the right formula of fats and nucleic acids — the building blocks of these vaccines. And the debate over who deserves credit for pioneering the technology is heating up.
… and the fight to deliver them
The problem is how to distribute COVID-19 vaccines equitably — something the world is failing at spectacularly. This chart shows how high-income countries have vaccinated a much higher proportion of their populations than have those in low- and middle-income countries. Many researchers now say the best way to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is to enable countries in the global south to make their own.
COVID’s collateral damage
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on the fight against other deadly infectious diseases, according to a report that compares 2019 and 2020 data on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in more than 100 low- and lower-middle-income countries. For HIV, the number of people reached by prevention programmes that supply condoms or clean needles and syringes, for example, dropped by 11%. HIV testing has fallen by 22%, delaying treatment and contributing to transmission of the virus.