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COVID-19’s Vaccine and Drug Innovators Chosen as Recipients of the Galien Foundation 2021 Roy Vagelos Pro Bono Humanum Award for Global Health Equity


The Prix Galien Awards Committee announced that six world-leading biopharma companies responsible for the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics will jointly receive the 2021 Roy Vagelos Pro Bono Humanum Award for Global Health Equity at the 15th annual Prix Galien USA Awards Ceremony, to be held on Thursday, October 28, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Since its inception in 2007, the annual Pro Bono Humanum Award was personally presented by Pr. Elie Wiesel (1928–2016), Honorary Founding President of the Galien Foundation and 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate. Pr. Wiesel attended every ceremony during his lifetime.

The Award recognizes innovative individual and group efforts to improve the human condition through the application of biomedical science to health problems in developing or underserved populations worldwide. In 2018, the Award was renamed in honor of its first recipient, Dr. P Roy Vagelos, Retired Chairman and CEO, Merck & Co., Inc. Chairman of the Board, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, in recognition of his decades of corporate and philanthropic contributions to fighting disease in the pursuit of better health for all.

This year’s Award Ceremony will feature senior leaders from COVID-19 vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca PLC and Johnson & Johnson, as well as top executives representing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the investigational COVID-19 antibody cocktail REGEN-COV™ (casirivimab and imdevimab), and Eli Lilly & Company, which received EUA for bamlanivimab. The six companies together responded to the pandemic in record time, with safe, effective treatments that hold the promise of reducing mortality and restoring normal life for untold millions of vulnerable patients.

“Each of these vaccines and medicines relied on state-of-the art technology that advance the state of medical practice in response to one of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Chair of the Prix Galien USA and Prix Galien International Award Committees and former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Innovative science founded on years of painstaking research delivered proven results in an unprecedented span of less than one year, with one billion doses of vaccine now in the arms of waiting patients worldwide. Thanks to these innovator’s unwavering commitment to science and human life, we are seeing lower rates of infection as well as a reduction of serious illness requiring hospitalization.” 

The sheer scale of this achievement is commensurate to the urgency of the threat – to date, some 3 million fatalities from COVID-19 have been officially recorded worldwide.

Dr. P Roy Vagelos will present the Award during the Prix Galien USA Awards Ceremony, which is attended by academic and industry leaders, scientists, patients and NGO representatives, all gathered to celebrate another year of “the best of the best” in product innovations for biopharma and med tech. Winners of the Prix Galien USA awards represent multiple therapeutic areas and are chosen by a distinguished independent panel of Nobel laureates and other prominent scientists and clinicians.

“This year’s Award occurs as the Galien Foundation marks its 50th anniversary as the most important global advocate for innovations that transform health in unprecedented ways,” said Bruno Cohen, Chairman of the Galien Foundation. “Every one of the nearly 300 medicines, vaccines and devices our Committees have recognized over the years brings us one step closer to a future where equity in health is not a privilege for the few, but a right for all.”