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Dr. Leana Wen Celebrates a Silver Lining for Science

The mere fact that so many women scientists were poised to lead the global Covid-19 vaccine effort is remarkable, and will have an effect on girls for decades to come.

This story appears in the October 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In just more than a year and a half, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 630,000 Americans and more than 4.5 million people around the world. It has wreaked havoc on the global economy and caused untold pain and suffering. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been trying my best to provide guidance to Americans — on the air at CNN, in my column for The Washington Post, and one-on-one with my patients — but the future was unknown and prospects were often grim. I experienced uncertainty myself, giving birth during the pandemic and then caring for my family members when they became infected with the coronavirus.

Courtesy of Leana Wen

Throughout all this, one thing has been clear: Our single pathway out of the most devastating public health crisis of our time was the vaccine. And against all odds, in record time, scientists developed safe, effective vaccines that protect against this potentially deadly disease. What’s more: Women were and continue to be at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development. Given that, according to the most recent global data, only 32.7 percent of R&D scientists in North America and Western Europe are women, this is remarkable. We are fortunate these scientists were poised to lead the charge when our moment of crisis arrived.

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