The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine

Brendan Borrell. Mariner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-56984-8
Journalist Borrell debuts with a powerful behind-the-scenes look at Operation Warp Speed, the effort to develop a Covid-19 vaccine in record time. Through interviews with “current and former government officials and members of the Trump White House,” Borrell focuses on the scientists who made use of cutting-edge genetic technologies to win the race to immunity. There’s Moncef Slaoui, the operation’s chief scientific adviser, who took the helm when “it was less than operational and it wasn’t moving at warp speed,” and Barney Graham, the deputy director at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, who was “out to prove that vaccine design could move faster than ever under his pathogen-preparedness model.” Borrell also details the rivalries that slowed things down—Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary in Health and Human Service’s Office for Preparedness and Response, contacted an executive at Hanes in March 2020 and arranged with the company to produce cloth masks for every American household, only to have that nixed by Jared Kushner. Borrell’s granular account reveals the inspiring work of scientists, who despite the holdups, succeeded “in spite of the politics at the time,” and were “a testament to the grit and ingenuity of the American people.” The result is a page-turning introduction to a key part of the pandemic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/03/2021
Release date: 10/26/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-358-65319-6
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