Scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman won the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries they made at the University of Pennsylvania that enabled the development of effective vaccines against COVID-19, the award-giving body said on Monday.

“MRNA vaccines, together with other COVID-19 vaccines, have been administered over 13 billion times. Together they have saved millions of lives, prevented severe COVID-19, reduced the overall disease burden and enabled societies to open up again,” said Thomas Perlmann, member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute.

The Nobel Prize was created by wealthy Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who in his will dictated that his estate should be used to fund “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” The first awards were given out in 1901.

Prizes in physics, chemistry and literature will be announced this week, with the Nobel Peace Prize winner to be revealed on Friday. The economics prize is announced on Oct. 9.

Dr. Katalin Kariko and Dr. Drew Weissman are shown on April 15 in Los Angeles, at the Ninth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. (Araya Doheny/Getty Images)

Winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes will get an extra 1 million crowns compared to last year, partly because the Swedish crown has lost around 30 per cent of its value against the euro the past decade. The prize money of 11 million Swedish crowns is the equivalent of $1.36 million Cdn.

The Nobel prizes are presented to the laureates on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. The peace prize is handed out by the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee in Oslo, while the other prizes are presented by the Swedish king in Stockholm’s Concert Hall.

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