Changemakers Studios and BBC announced the joint commission of a feature documentary film following the unprecedented global quest to develop, trial, manufacture and distribute effective vaccines to fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
(PRUnderground) November 26th, 2023
Changemakers Studios and BBC announced the joint commission of a feature documentary film following the unprecedented global quest to develop, trial, manufacture and distribute effective vaccines to fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The film is rooted in extraordinary access during 2020 to the leading vaccine research teams around the world, including scientists behind the Pfizer/BioNTech, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) /Moderna, and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines in development. The film will be produced by the independent film company Changemakers Studios.
“How pandemics end depends so much on how they begin, so I wanted to tell the story of the scientists who were ready and waiting for COVID-19. The story of their race against time to develop vaccines, and the lessons we take from it, will shape the future for us all, so it’s never been more important that we dive into their world. I’ve been truly inspired by them,” said BBC Head of Commissioning Jack Gale.
“This pandemic is a global catastrophe. But, we saw right away that, even as many leaders were failing us, these scientists were stepping up. This is the story of a handful of people, under incredible pressure, with the fate of the world in their hands,” said BBC Documentary Development Head, Sanjay Gupta.
When news of the novel coronavirus pandemic broke, most people were trying to learn how to survive the looming months. A small group of elite scientists around the globe launched into action to take on perhaps the biggest challenge in the history of modern medicine. The scope and speed of this effort has been unprecedented: producing multiple vaccines using different novel technologies, to neutralize a virus never seen before in humans. The film explores an emotional journey for its key characters, giving viewers insight into the ground-breaking discoveries, grueling endeavors, and personal sacrifices that led to this extraordinary moment of public health triumph.
The film tracks key individuals from these and other vaccine teams in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, following scientists, clinicians, and manufacturing experts through the struggles and triumphs of their work, from recruiting trial subjects and inventing new supply chains, to facing down political pressures to speed up science and potentially sacrifice safety. The film also explores the contributions of the vaccine trial volunteers who have put their bodies on the line to make this medical progress possible.
The filmmakers established rare access to researchers and developers behind several of the principal COVID-19 candidate vaccines, including three of the first to make it through human clinical trials and offer real hope for controlling the virus. Among those to allow the documentary teams to film their work is the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate vaccine, the first to cross the ‘finish line’ with a candidate based upon novel mRNA technology. The Pfizer candidate vaccine, stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit), is reported to be 95 percent effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a massive clinical trial. Also featured are top scientists from the U.S. NIH, who worked with Moderna to develop one of the vaccines supported by the U.S. government-led Operation Warp Speed initiative. That vaccine candidate remains stable at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to six months, at refrigerated conditions for up to 30 days, and at room temperature for up to 12 hours. The film also follows the group from Oxford University, whose vector-borne approach is the basis for the low-cost AstraZeneca vaccine that can be stored and transported with relatively simple refrigeration storage, avoiding the need for a more complex cold supply chain. And, the film also chronicles the work of the team from the University of Queensland in Australia, who have developed a novel protein subunit candidate vaccine.
“We’re proud to work with this talented team of storytellers to shine a light on the scientists behind one of the most important public health breakthroughs of our modern history,” said BBC Head of Development, Ernest Carroll. “We think it’s more important than ever for the public to understand the people and the process driving this herculean quest to save lives,” he said.
About Changemakers Studios
Changemakers Studios is an impact-driven production company creating original documentary films, digital content, and short films that address society’s most pressing issues.
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Original Press Release.