Kariko of Hungary and Weissman of the United States won the Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for work on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that paved the way for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.
The pair, who had been tipped as favourites, were honoured for “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against Covid-19,” the jury said.
Laureates in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature are also set to be announced in Stockholm, Sweden, in the coming week.
The Peace Prize, the most highly anticipated of the awards and the only one announced in Oslo, Norway, will follow on Friday, with the Economics Prize wrapping things up on October 9.
Except for economics, the prizes were endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.
The first awards were handed out in 1901, five years after Nobel’s death.
Each prize is worth 11 million kronor (about US$1 million) and will be handed out with a diploma and gold medal on December 10 – the date of Nobel’s death in 1896.
The Medicine Prize has over the years crowned groundbreaking discoveries like the X-ray, penicillin, insulin and DNA – as well as now-disgraced awards for the lobotomy and the insecticide DDT.
Last year, the Medicine Prize went to Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo for his groundbreaking findings on human evolution.