“The vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman, and that’s just a fact,” so said Dr Anthony Fauci a few months ago. He was referring to the National Institute of Health’s work on the Moderna vaccine – the so-called rolls-royce of anti-Covid vaccines. It has a 95 percent efficacy, and must be administered in two doses. One of the key players instrumental in its development is a stunningly beautiful Black woman, all of 35 years old, named Kizzmekia ‘Kizzy’ Corbett. In an industry that is roughly seventy percent white, we certainly salute her. And she confidently defends her work, as she did when she recently declared, “I want you to know that the work that we’ve been doing, I stand by it.”
As well she ought to. The Moderna vaccine is being used in a number of countries around the world to great reviews. Even our Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, was administered his first dose of its life-saving properties over five weeks ago, albeit under rather stealthy circumstances. Of course, in any number of countries around the world – Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, for example, the leaders have chosen to stand by the vaccine being delivered to the masses of the people. It’s just the right and proper thing to do. We think it the measure of a leader, standing shoulder to shoulder with his or her people, sinking or swimming with them. History may not be so kind to those leaders that choose to cast their lots with the rich, and the powerful, and the very well-connected.
Anyway, getting back to Kizzy. When asked about the input of African Americans in the search for an anti-Covid vaccine, Dr Anthony Fauci proffered the following: “The very vaccine that’s one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels – 94 to 95 percent efficacy against clinical disease, and almost 100 percent efficacy against serious diseases, and are shown to be definitely safe – that vaccine was actually developed in my institute’s vaccine research centre, by a team of scientists, led by Dr Barney Graham and his close colleague, Dr Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy Corbett, an African American scientist who is at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.” Bravo, Kizzy! You have done us proud!
Of course, Since Dr Fauci’s declaration in the middle of last December, a number of other vaccines have come on stream, not least of which is the AstraZeneca vaccine that many countries, including ours, are using. By this time next week, we expect that there will be at least another significant roll-out of more of the AstraZeneca vaccine here in our fair State. To date, we have received some 5,000 doses, the kind courtesy of the government and people of Dominica, and our Parliamentarians and other ranking members on the front lines have received their first dosages. To the government and people of Dominica, we again say a heartfelt “Thank you.”
In the meantime, let us continue doing those things that have kept us safe thus far. Let us continue wearing our masks, practicing good social distancing, and good coughing and sneezing routines. Let us refrain from touching our faces and, of course, let us continue washing our hands frequently. There is simply no other way. A goodly number of offices and business places have closed their doors on account of outbreaks, and some of our fellow Antiguans have gone on to the Great Beyond. Rather swiftly, we might add. This Covid thing is clearly a word that rhymes with witch.
Our hearts go out to the bereaved families, and we ask the good Lord to provide some measure of comfort, in these troubling times.
Again, in this Black History Month, we find it quite encouraging – a source of enormous pride, that one of our own – Kizzy, was at the forefront in this historic push to develop a vaccine that will save billions of lives. She has done us proud!