CNN Films and BBC will take viewers inside the efforts of researchers around the world trying to develop and manufacture vaccines to fight the global coronavirus pandemic, in a documentary feature slated to air on CNN and BBC Two in the spring of 2021.
CNN Films has retained linear television rights throughout the United States and territories as well as Canada. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios holds the educational rights. Global Health Reporting Center and Wingspan Productions retain rights outside of the U.K. and North America. Sanjay Gupta. CNN’s chief medical correspondent, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupt will narrate the U.S. broadcast.
The film, called “Race for the Vaccine” in the U.S. and “Vaccine: The Inside Story” in the United Kingdom, uses access during 2020 to research teams working for. among others, Pfizer/BioNTech, the National Institutes of Health, Moderna and a venture between Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The film will be produced and directed by Catherine Gale, a British filmmaker and former virologist and co-directed by Caleb Hellerman, an independent filmmaker and independent American medical journalist.
“It is an incredible privilege to be able to bring BBC Two viewers the inside story of the biggest scientific breakthrough of the 21st Century; a moment in medical history that we will remember forever,” said Jack Bootle, BBC Head of Commissioning, science and natural history, in a statement. “With extraordinary access to the amazing women and men inside the world’s leading laboratories, Wingspan and their partners are making a film that everyone will need to see.”
“How pandemics end depends so much on how they begin, so I wanted to tell the story of the scientists who were ready and waiting for COVID-19. The story of their race against time to develop vaccines, and the lessons we take from it, will shape the future for us all, so it’s never been more important that we dive into their world. I’ve been truly inspired by them,” said Gale, in a statement. “This pandemic is a global catastrophe. But, we saw right away that, even as many leaders were failing us, these scientists were stepping up. This is the story of a handful of people, under incredible pressure, with the fate of the world in their hands,” said Hellerman.
The film tracks key individuals from vaccine teams in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, following scientists, clinicians, and manufacturing experts through recruiting trial subjects and inventing new supply chains, to facing down political pressures to speed up science and potentially sacrifice safety. The film also explores the contributions of trial volunteers who have put their bodies on the line to make this medical progress possible.
The deal was negotiated by Kirstie McLure of The Televators, on behalf of Wingspan Productions and GHRC, and by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, both of CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films.
Executive producers are Janet Tobias and Rogger Lopez of Global Health Reporting Center; Archie Baron of Wingspan Productions; Amy Entelis, Katie Hinman, and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films; Tom Coveney of BBC; Sean B. Carroll and Jared Lipworth of Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Tangled Bank Studios. The film has also been supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.