Alfred Nobel stipulated in his will in 1895 that the prizes he bequeathed should be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” Some dismay was understandable, then, when the 2021 prize in physiology or medicine passed over the work that had, since the beginning of that year, already saved an estimated half a million lives worldwide by delivering vaccines against Covid-19.
The award committee’s deliberations apparently now happen too slowly to respect the letter of Nobel’s bequest. But Nobel recognition for the vaccines, developed astonishingly fast and displaying remarkable efficacy, will surely come soon, perhaps even this year. These jabs, which have made it -possible at least to imagine an end to the pandemic, owe a great deal to the arrival of so-called -mRNA technology for making medicines. The first Covid vaccines to receive emergency-use authorisation in December 2020—one made…
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