Virus-hunting trio wins Nobel for Hepatitis C find

"The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has today decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, jointly to Harvey J Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus."

Two Americans and a British scientist won the Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday (October 5).

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice will share $1.1 million for discovering and proving that a blood-borne virus could cause Hepatitis C.

Their work took place over many decades, and has limited the spread of the disease and helped develop antiviral drugs to cure it.

The award body said their studies meant there was now a chance of eradicating Hepatitis C completely.

Nobel Committee member Anna Wedell.

"It is really a life-saving discovery and also it's critical to go to the beginning to really understand the basic, original discoveries that have really enabled, there is really so much else that has happened, so many advances in therapy etc. but that has been made possible by this initial discovery of the actual virus."

70 million people have Hepatitis C and 400,000 die every year from it.

The World Health Organization wants to get rid of the virus in the next decade.

While the Nobel award will go ahead this year, the traditional banquet has been cancelled due to coronavirus.

Prize winners will instead receive medals and diplomas in a televised event rather than live in Stockholm.

Video Transcript

- The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has today decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of hepatitis C virus.

- Two Americans and a British scientist won the Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday. Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice will share $1.1 million for discovering and proving that a blood-borne virus could cause hepatitis C. Their work took place over many decades, and has limited the spread of the disease and helped develop antiviral drugs to cure it. The award body said their studies meant there was now a chance of eradicating Hepatitis C completely. Nobel committee member, Anna Wedell.

ANNA WEDELL: It's really a lifesaving discovery, and also, it's critical to go to the beginning to really understand the basic, original discoveries that have really enabled, there's so much else that has happened, so many advances in therapy, et cetera. But that has been made possible by this initial discovery of the actual virus.

- 70 million people have hepatitis C, and 400,000 people die every year from it. The World Health Organization wants to get rid of the virus in the next decade. While a Nobel award will go ahead this year, the traditional banquet has been canceled due to coronavirus. Prize winners will instead receive medals and diplomas in a televised event, rather than live in Stockholm.