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Amazing Women In The History of Brazil: The Scientists Who Sequenced The Coronavirus In Record Time

For years women have been ostracized or devalued because of their gender, considered “too emotional” for this or that. The feminist struggle, which seeks equality between men and women, is composed of small and large actions by courageous women who for centuries questioned the secondary role that society attributed to them. The independence of Brazil, for example, is usually conferred on Dom Pedro I, but the vital decisions for this historical landmark were taken by his wife, Empress Leopoldina.

This week was celebrated the International Women’s Day but that date is much more than a day of receiving flowers and words of affection, it is a day of protest. The pandemic of the new coronavirus brought enormous challenges, especially for women. Without support networks, such as day care centers and schools, and the division of household chores, women have seen their work capacity reduced with more emphasis in the last year. The percentage of women looking for a job in Brazil in the second quarter of 2020 fell to the same level as 30 years ago, 45.8%.

Throughout history women have had to fight with both arms tied behind their backs to get the same opportunities that were given to men. And yet, incredible and strong women continue to overcome obstacles and inspire us with their stories. Brazilians Ester Sabino and Jaqueline Góes de Jesus, for example, surprised the world at the end of February 2020, with the speed with which they conducted the genome sequencing of the new coronavirus.

Get to know them!

The average of most countries was within 15 days after the discovery of the first cases of the disease, but these incredible women did what seemed impossible: they sequenced the genome in 48 hours.

Ester Sabino, director of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (IMT) at University of São Paulo (USP), and Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Medicine at USP participated in the research that determined the complete sequence of the viral genome found in Brazil, which was called SARS- CoV-2.

The study they conducted alongside other researchers at the Adolfo Lutz Institute (IAL), the University of Oxford, and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of São Paulo (IMT-USP) helped epidemiologists, virologists, and public health specialists to develop vaccines and diagnostic tests.

The coronavirus continues to advance worldwide, causing more and more victims. In Brazil, the number of cases goes against the rest of the world and continues to increase. However, vaccines against covid-19 are effective and we are increasingly close to getting rid of this reality, which is only possible due to research like this.

March 8th is a day to remember that much remains to be done, but our struggle takes place every day and the appreciation of both women who have been neglected by History and those who are writing their stories right now, must be highlighted and valued the most, so that in the future girls look back at History and and feel represented in it, see themselves in it.

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Júlia Mei

Casper Libero '23

I'm a journalism student at Cásper Líbero College. I'm passionate about literature and cinema. I want to share my thoughts and experiences and write about things that I find interesting. I hope you like it.
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