Landing the Moonshot
We have heard a lot of talk in recent days and weeks about ‘moonshots’. As the United Kingdom has now won the race to be the first country in the world to begin to roll-out a vaccine, we should not overlook the significance of this global event.
In late February of this year, when the extent of the crisis facing us was becoming clear, the overwhelming scientific consensus was that it would be virtually impossible to have a vaccine ready to be rolled out before 2021.
It was a ‘moonshot’.
On 25th May, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a historic speech before a joint session of Congress in which he said: ‘’I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.’’
It was a moonshot, a project at the time so ambitious that it became a synonym for tasks so innovative, challenging and ambitious they were destined to failure without the combined genius and will of an entire nation.
In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama appointed then Vice President Joe Biden to lead an effort to end cancer as we know it. It is known as the ‘Cancer Moonshot’.
I don’t believe it is an exaggeration to equate the great achievement of JFK’s generation in putting a man on the moon with the achievement of today’s scientists to develop several vaccines for a deadly within a year.
As JFK also said; ‘’Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.’’