COVID vaccine tech pioneer Karikó gets Semmelweis Medal

Science

Katalin Karikó and Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

The Hungarian-born biochemist Katalin Karikó, whose decades of work with mRNA technology was instrumental in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, was presented the Semmelweis Ignác Medal and Award in Budapest on Tuesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

The award, which "recognizes lifetime research achievement that has established a new school of thought", was presented by Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler.

With her research, the minister said, Karikó has "inscribed her name in the history of medical science", drawing a comparison as well as with the work of the award's namesake.

The Hungarian physician Ignác Semmelweis was a pioneer of antiseptic procedures, although his suggestion that doctors should wash their hands flew in the face of established medical opinion in the mid-19th century.

Karikó said she was honored to accept the award, adding that she would continue her work to find treatments for diseases that had been "pushed to the sidelines" because of the pandemic.

The biochemist, who filed the patent for the mRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines, trained at the University of Szeged and was awarded her doctorate there in 1983.

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