COVID-19 vaccine inventor describes feeling helpless as people opt-out of shot: 'I don't have the words'

Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the researchers behind the coronavirus vaccine, opened up this week about her feelings of hopelessness as many Americans refuse to get the shot even as variant cases rise across the country.

In a thread of tweets, Corbett described her time watching people come and go in a Louisiana ICU as she experienced a "non-COVID family emergency."

"In Louisiana… a 'hot-spot'… watching the virus do what viruses do," she wrote in one tweet. "… Feeling helpless because people are opting out of the vaccine. I um… I… I don’t have the words."


The state's health department has reported 5,388 new virus cases and nearly 844 COVID-19-related hospitalizations. On Thursday, New Orleans announced new recommendations asking residents and tourists to resume wearing face masks amid the rise in cases.

Corbett said that during her time in Louisiana she encountered a grieving wife, a woman who wept openly in the ICU and a staff member who informed her that a two-person visitation limit would soon be ending as a result of the surge of COVID-19 in the state.

"Please go get vaccinated, y’all. Please. That’s it. I’m beyond the point of not begging.


"Just go. If you are able-bodied… go," she tweeted.

Corbett is the lead scientist for the National Institutes of Health’s coronavirus vaccine research and helped invent Moderna's vaccine. 

Last year, she expressed her commitment to combating vaccine hesitancy, saying that trust would have to be rebuilt among communities of color.

“And so, what I say to people firstly is that I empathize, and then secondly is that I’m going to do my part in laying those bricks," she said at the time. "And I think that if everyone on our side, as physicians and scientists, went about it that way, then the trust would start to be rebuilt.”

On Friday, Corbett tweeted an update on the situation in Louisiana, noting that a friend she made in the ICU waiting room had lost her husband.