NIH Vaccine Designer Takes Coronavirus Research to Harvard | WIVT


FILE – In this file photo from February 11, 2021, Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), examines the NIH Viral Pathogenesis Lab in Bethesda, Md. reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how vaccines have been tested are still holding some back, according to a new survey that highlights the challenges to a pivotal moment in the American vaccination campaign. Corbett helped lead the development of the Moderna vaccine, and she spends hours giving straight answers to questions from Americans – especially black Americans like her – to counter misinformation about the three vaccines used in the United States (AP Photo / Evan Vucci, File)

The US government scientist who helped design one of the first COVID-19 vaccines, then grappled with skepticism about gunfire in communities of color, moved to Harvard in June.

Kizzmekia Corbett, of the National Institutes of Health, will focus her research on next-generation coronavirus vaccines at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the school said on Tuesday.

Corbett told The Associated Press that the move also allows him to become even more involved in vaccine awareness and equity.

“I basically spent the last year, I guess, fighting the misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines, she said. “We think we can just say, ‘The science is good’, and people are going to say, ‘OK, yes, I’m going to take the vaccine’,” when their questions instead need more attention.

Corbett, 35, helped lead the NIH’s development of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna. The viral immunologist spent six years leading an NIH research team that studied potential vaccines against other coronaviruses such as MERS, giving them a head start when the new coronavirus emerged.

As the vaccination campaigns kicked off, Corbett spoke to churches virtually and at forums hosted by colleges, doctors and even the great basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to counter the reluctance to vaccinate.

In his new role, Corbett will lead a lab that explores new vaccines to protect against other members of the coronavirus family and other new viruses that could threaten human health.

“We’re going to continue to see these emerging viruses and we need to have strategies to deal with them,” said Sarah Fortune, president of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. “Unfortunately, with coronaviruses and the need to understand how to vaccinate against coronaviruses, we are not out of the woods.”


The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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