COVID-19 VACCINES SUPPORT, USA/THE NETHERLANDS
Vaccines bring us closer as we work together to advance the science.
For me, leading the clinical development organization that developed our COVID-19 vaccine candidate has provided purpose during this pandemic.
Before the pandemic, I spent a substantial proportion of my time traveling between two continents. Then, when COVID-19 hit, I remained in the U.S. full-time for the first time in years, which meant: no jetlag.
Given the level of focus this vaccine program required, being stationed in one place was very helpful.
A lot of my friends and former colleagues are practicing physicians on the front line. I’ve seen them face so many challenges over this past year – from working in hospitals overflowing with patients, dealing with a shortage of PPE at the start of the pandemic, and putting themselves at risk for months on end.
My brother is a surgeon and still working in the hospital. I have also had to worry about my father – making sure he was taking care of himself and taking appropriate personal protection precautions. He’s older and therefore more at risk, so naturally it was a big concern for me.
Dealing with the pandemic has been stressful for everyone – you can never escape it because it affects you personally and professionally, especially when you’re actively working on a solution and feeling pressure to do more and not waste a minute.
I’ve been leading a team that has been working around the clock to advance the development of a vaccine candidate. We’re doing everything we can to expedite availability of authorized vaccines that we so urgently need, without cutting any corners. It’s been hard work, but developing these vaccines is of paramount importance because we all want to help protect our families and the population and get back to some semblance of normality.
We’re building on decades of scientific research into vaccine science and technology and working together in unprecedented ways to make it happen. For example, we are using some of the science and best practices from working on the Ebola outbreaks to help us tackle COVID-19. We are doing larger studies than ever before to make sure the COVID-19 vaccines work for people of different ages, genders, ethnicities and those who are at higher risk of having complications or dying from COVID-19.
As vaccines are deployed into large populations of the public, it is paramount that we continue to share the facts to ensure everyone has access to all of the information necessary to make an informed decision on getting vaccinated. The evolution of the virus means that we also have to stay vigilant and be ready to adjust our scientific approaches. And across the industry, we’ve been sharing as much as we can – best practices, lessons learned, the challenges we’re experiencing – to help each other. It means we’re not competing against each other, but instead trying to help empower the industry as a whole to make sure we can end suffering. I’m proud to be part of it all.