Vaccine Poster

As news of the coronavirus broke around the globe, a small group of scientists jumped into action to tackle one of the greatest medical challenges of our time: to create a vaccine against a virus no one had ever seen before, and to do so in record time, during a deadly, global pandemic. Directed and produced by filmmaker and former virologist Catherine Gale and co-directed by medical journalist and independent filmmaker Caleb Hellerman, RACE FOR THE VACCINE, tells the story of how they did just that, developing vaccines candidates in days and weeks instead of years, and putting them through the rigorous testing required to prove that they were safe, and that they worked. The filmmakers embedded with several of these vaccine teams throughout the process, following them through the triumphs and setbacks of their unprecedented undertaking. From the design challenges of the drugs to the pitfalls of recruitment; from the pressure of politics to the glorious victories and stunning defeats, the film offers an inside look into this extraordinary scientific undertaking for the ages. Viewers will have a sense of the personal sacrifices these heroes made for the public good – as well as those of the clinical trial volunteers, who literally put their bodies on the line for the benefit of humanity. The film, narrated by CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, is produced by Wingspan Productions and Global Health Reporting Center in association with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.


“It is 81 years since Winston Churchill said: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’ Having watched the BBC’s 90-minute Horizon Special it feels appropriate to invoke those words again. If you weren’t moved by the human endeavour on display here, the brilliance, yet, unfailingly, the modesty, you must have a brick for a heart. Or be an anti-vaxxer.”

Carol Midgley, The Times

“Being the Horizon strand, there was a lot of science in this 90-minute programme, by way of diagrams and a voice-over which tried to give us the information as simply as possible. There was talk of sequencing, spikes and viral vectors. But all of it was humanised when the film introduced us to the individual scientists. Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca – all have become household names. The documentary helped to put faces to those names, and reminded us of the phenomenal work that went into creating the vaccines.”

Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“The wonder of [creating the vaccine], the harnessing of intellectual might, the logistics, the commitment necessary to condense into months what could easily have taken a decade was all powerfully evoked by Horizon’s 90-minute film The Vaccine. Plus it did it all that without getting in the way of the science, the facts or the story itself.”

Lucy Mangan, The Guardian