The newly crowned Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, Drew Weissman, only found out about the award through his colleague Katalin Karikó, who was also honored. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm couldn’t reach him because it had the wrong number, Weissman said at a joint press conference for the two laureates at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Karikó had previously been called to the phone early in the morning on the US East Coast by her husband, who was woken up by the call from Stockholm, the scientist said. She then gave the institute Weissman’s number and also wrote him a text message. “We both initially assumed that someone was playing a trick on us,” said Weissman. Only when the award was officially announced did they both believe it for sure.

“This is the dream of a lifetime, the ultimate recognition of work,” Weissman said. “I’ve always dreamed of it, but never imagined it would actually happen.” Karikó emphasized that neither of them had ever worked toward “any honor.” “It was important to have a product that was helpful.” The prize now gives them both “even more energy” for further work, said Weissman.

The Karolinska Institute had previously announced that the Hungarian-born biochemist Karikó and the US immunologist Weissman would receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year for their fundamental work on mRNA vaccines against Corona.