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Dr Ivarsson: Vaccine Hero

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

A scientist who worked to produce the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has said there were “lots of tears” when her team realised that they had produced an effective jab.


Order of the British Empire medal

Dr Melanie Ivarsson, who received an OBE from King Charles III at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, said the group of researchers she led initially had “no idea” whether the vaccine they created world work.


Dr Ivarsson received her PhD from the University of Bristol. She worked around the clock to lead her Moderna’s clinical trials in Boston, Massachusetts.


Speaking to the PA news agency, Dr Ivarsson, chief development officer at Moderna, revealed her team had sprung into action in early 2020, fearing the coronavirus outbreak in China could develop into a global pandemic.


“As scientists, we realised in January 2020 that a global pandemic was likely to happen,” she said. “I joined Moderna on 3 February 2020, the day that the company decided to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. The company had never run a large-scale clinical trial for a vaccine, or ever manufactured or commercialised a single product, so we had to start completely from scratch. We had to find a way to produce 10 years’ worth of vaccine development in 10 months.”


“It was an incredible experience. We were working incredibly long hours, seven days a week. There were only 600 people in the entire company but we pulled together to make the impossible happen. We’ve gone on to produce not just that first Covid-19 vaccine but also variant vaccines, and have manufactured over a billion doses, which is just incredible for such a small company."


“This just goes to show what we can do as a team when we need to do it.”

 

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