Happiness: The world is so full of a number of things I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings. Robert Louis Stevenson
A Shot to Save the World chronicles a number of events that contributed to the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines under FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA). Its author, Greg Zuckerman is a business journalist. He expertly covers the investment, business, and economic impacts of mRNA technology and COVID vaccines. He starts this book by telling us his own COVID story and suffering, setting a stage “for those who gave of themselves to help others”.
As a trained molecular biologist with a patent filed on RNA therapeutics and delivery platforms and an active researcher in this field with understanding of the literature as well as familiar with the publications of individuals mentioned in this book prior to them becoming household names, the cherry-picking of information and biased presentation of facts throughout the book are evident. While it is apparent that the author has researched the subjects and subject matter to great depths, Zuckerman falls in the same trap as many mainstream media writers and glorifies a few select individuals rather than focusing on science/scientific methods or healthcare virtues.
Although he clearly lays out the challenges and acrimony that plagues the scientific community at large, the book falls short on enlightening readers as to how an mRNA technology that was riddled with problems, had never been scaled up, was suddenly a faultless, safe, and effective methodology that could be given to healthy people at a scale that no other prophylactic drug has ever been given at the population level.
The book can be divided into 3 major parts with business and economics deeply entwined with science. The first part sets the stage about the importance of vaccines in curbing infectious diseases and challenges faced in the early 1980s and 90s due to the AIDS epidemic. The second part deals with mRNA technology and challenges it faced right up to August of 2019 in being translated into clinical use and the economic and business impact on Moderna and BioNTech, with both companies ready to fold. The third part deals with the business, politics, and economics of COVID-19…