International Women’s Day takes place annually on March 8. This year the claim chosen by the UN to celebrate this day is Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, a premise that coincides with Optiva’s values and social responsibility. Once again, we are celebrating this day. On this occasion, we want to take a look at ones of the most inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2021. These women are playing their part to reinvent our society, our culture and our world.
Here are just a few of the women who shaped our year, shared our hopes, and stood up for all of us. They set bold examples, acted with purpose, and demonstrated exceptional compassion and courage.
Women against Covid-19
In the middle of all our worries due to Covid-19 there is a reason to cheer: four women were working around the clock to produce safe, effective vaccines, breaking records and stubborn expectations about women in science with their ingenuity and persistence.
The first one is Katalin Karikó and her fixation with the potential of RNA to transform human health. She joined BioNTech in 2013 to head its messenger RNA (mRNA) program. When in January 2020, Chinese researchers published the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 she had already created in partnership with immunologist and physician Drew Weissman “the perfect vehicle for targeting any virus or pathogen”, a vaccine decades in the making, ready and waiting for the right virus.
Next one is Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development known for developing vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV) and pneumococcal disease. Beginning in March 2020, Jansen led a team of 650 experts, in collaboration with German startup BioNTech, to develop a successful vaccine against COVID-19.
Also, we have to talk about the immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). She collaborated with Moderna to develop its vaccine in record time. Corbett helped design the vaccine, led preclinical studies for the clinical trials, and then offered her voice and her time to communicate with her hundreds of thousands of social followers about the importance of getting vaccinated, helping her audience overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Last but not less important, Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinology professor at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shehad already developed a vaccine for another coronavirus disease, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), when she turned her attention and her team to COVID-19, using the MERS vaccine as a blueprint.