Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, hopes have relied on the vaccines, seeming to be the exact solution. Vaccines including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinovac, were created by the pharmaceutical companies and were purchased by countries. Yet the reality that only a solution of a global and collective response could save the world is overlooked.

In order to ensure an equitable share of coronavirus vaccines, a global vaccine plan known as COVAX was initiated by the World Health Organization. Accordingly, no country will receive vaccines for more than 20% of their population before the others in the COVAX group.

However, some low-income countries are left behind in accessing vaccines whereas high-income countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Israel have purchased and reserved doses of vaccines with side deals and negotiations, started vaccinating the second doses to their population and pursued stockpiling.

According to WHO, many low-income countries, especially located in Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East and in conflict zones have received limited and inadequate amounts of vaccines. Overall, only 0.1% of doses worldwide have been administered in low-income countries, while in high-income countries more than half of the doses were injected. Therefore, the imbalance of distribution of vaccines has become apparent across the globe.

Although more-economically developed countries have confirmed to donate the surplus of their vaccines, we can’t guarantee global immunity with the ongoing steps. With increasing transmission, numerous variants have emerged, deteriorating the efficiency of the vaccines, delaying “recovery” from the impacts of the virus and preventing the turn back to “normal”.

For the sake of a more effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic, a solution on a global front is crucial and indispensable. The COVAX plan needs to enhance, widen its reach in a faster manner and focus on serving equality. 



AWARNESS RAISING CORNER 2

In 1962, Francis Crick was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA structure together with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins. British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, who paved the way for this discovery, was not included in the textbooks, but became an exemplary role model when the subject of women in science was opened.

Esther Lederberg’s name was not included in the Nobel Prize, which her husband won in 1958, thanks to the method they found for transferring bacterial colonies from one petri dish to another. A year ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang thanks to their “law of equality” research, which made a big step in quantum mechanics. The third person in the experiment Chien-Shiung Wu’s name, however, did not exist in the prize

When we look at the present day in the Covid-19 pandemic, while Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci played a pioneering role in developing vaccines against the coronavirus, they were featured in the Turkish press as “Uğur Bey and his wife”.

The non-existence of women in science as a male-dominated field is not seen in one, two, three cases but is a phenomenon seen all over the world. The inability of a little girl to find opportunities, different recommended priorities for a young woman, or the deletion of the name of a scientist who has reached there by overcoming all obstacles, are part of this non-existence.

Many steps are being taken to support women and girls who cannot find a place in science due to lack of opportunities and differing prioritization as it is the most common way of this phenomenon: Baba Beni Okula Gönder mobilization and similar projects, books written to attract attention to female role models in children’s literature “ are done to break down this metaphorized invisible obstacle called as the “glass ceiling”.

However, in the third example of women’s nonexistence, even those who broke the glass ceiling, as seen in the examples of Özlem Türeci, Esther Lederberg, Rosalind Franklin and Chien-Shiung Wu, are somehow wiped out; emphasized not by scientist identities, but as being female, a spouse, or the “forgotten” second gender. In other words, the glass ceiling does not remain as a ceiling, it turns into a wall that surrounds a woman on all four sides.

Here’s the irony of the glass ceiling metaphor. Women breakinf down a glass ceiling in science that exists in the patriarchal system indicates finding a place for themselves in patriarchy. Thus the so-called space they find is a mystery, as can be seen.

Simone de Beauvoir says “One is not born but rather becomes a woman” in her book Second Sex. In the world of science as well, one is not born but rather becomes one. Trying to exist in the pathway of  patriarchy for women should not be the main purpose to find a place in STEM for women. Only then can a woman exist as  a scientist, rather than a second sex in science.

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