Moderna was “developing a vaccine for years and people counted them out” because of its mRNA approach to vaccines, the “A Shot to Save the World” author said. The company persisted despite skepticism from experts.
CEO Stéphane Bancel “had a vision [for a vaccine] and he kept pushing [his employees]. And that’s in some ways an American story [of] American entrepreneurs,” Zuckerman said.
The author said he contacted entrepreneurs, executives, investors and scientists – “mostly American” – as the vaccines were being developed because he had bet on COVID vaccines being “successful and effective.”
“There was American exceptionalism, I would argue, in terms of both the investors, but also the scientists working deep in these labs[,]…working hard and trying to develop the vaccines,” he said.
According to Zuckerman, foreign CEOs “say without America, these vaccines could not be done” without American scientists and investors who bankrolled development “with just the promise of potential profits down the road. Only in America could that happen.”
What former President Donald Trump called a “safe and effective vaccine” was achieved in only nine months under his Operation Warp Speed in what Zuckerman deemed a “modern-day miracle.”
When asked by host Brian Kilmeade about “unsung heroes” of vaccine development, Zuckerman spotlighted Novavax, a small Maryland company. He said it was “on [its] last legs” in early 2020, with its stock price at $3.93 on Jan. 10, 2020, it closed at $150.62 on Thursday.
“Everyone counted them out,” he continued, but “they kept at it and…ignored all the skepticism.” Zuckerman expects Novavax’s vaccine to be approved “soon” for worldwide distribution.