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UMBC Graduate Who Helped Develop COVID Vaccine Keynote Speaker At Black History Month Breakfast

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- They pulled out all the stops at the 41st annual Black History Month Breakfast.

Maryland's 4th and 5th Congressional Districts hosted the event. It was held virtually for the second year in a row but featured musical performances and guest speakers.

"This year we have so many dedicated and inspirational leaders to deliver messages of hope and joy," Emcee Kelby Funn said.

This year's theme was Black Health and Wellness. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist, was invited to be the keynote speaker.

"I have grown to become invested in the health and wellness of all people, but especially those who are oftentimes excluded from access and opportunities that afford them equal health," Corbett said.

Corbett attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and is currently a faculty member at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She played a major role in developing COVID-19 vaccines.

"A lot of people ask me: why vaccines?" Corbett said. "They are oftentimes controversial but at the end of the day, taking all of the controversies aside, the one thing that remains true is that vaccines happen to be the most lifesaving way to prevent disease in this world."

Corbett said she plans to continue to use her voice to help lift her community.

"We're going to have to reach into our hearts and oftentimes into our souls and pull from us the things that we are going to need to change and make for a better future, a healthier future, one with true health and true wellness for everyone," she said.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) thanked Corbett for her contribution during the breakfast and described her as "an extraordinary American who has made a difference in the lives of so many people."

"These critical advances are in no small measure, thanks to our keynote speaker today and her colleagues in the field of immunology," he said. "Dr. Corbett's research and contributions have undoubtedly saved countless lives thousands, perhaps millions, and alleviated untold suffering."

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