Pfizer: the incredible love story behind the discovery of the Covid-19 vaccine

This is news that brings a wave of hope in the race for vaccines against the Coronavirus. This Monday, November 9, the two laboratories Pfizer and BioNTech affirmed that they have developed a vaccine against Covid-19 and that this vaccine is “90% effective” to prevent infections. For the moment, these are preliminary results, carried out at the end of a large-scale phase 3 trial in progress, in other words the last step before an application for approval. Together, the American giant led by Albert Bourla and the German group have developed a partnership, and worked on innovative technology.

If you do not know BioNTech yet, it is a German biotechnology company, founded in 2008. Based in Mainz, the capital of the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate, its specialty is research into immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and serious or hereditary diseases. Now composed of around 1,500 employees, BioNTech was created by a couple of German researchers of Turkish origin, Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci. Both are specialists in the development of individual therapies tailored to each cancer patient.

A “dream team” of geniuses

Son of a Turkish immigrant, Uğur Şahin is the chief executive officer of BioNTech. At 55, he is among the 100 largest German fortunes, as is his wife of 53, according to information from the newspaper Die Welt, reports Reuters. “Despite all his success, he has never ceased to be incredibly humble and lovable,” said his colleague Matthias Kromayer, adding that for example Ugur Sahin has a habit of showing up to meetings in jeans, with his famous helmet. bike and backpack.

Also according to Reuters information, Uğur Şahin stubbornly pursued his childhood dream, studying medicine, until he became a physicist. He worked in several university hospitals in Cologne and Hamburg, where he met his wife Özlem Türeci, during the start of his career. And for good reason, both share a passion for medical and oncology research. As for Özlem Türeci, she is the daughter of a Turkish physicist who emigrated to Germany. In an interview, BioNTech’s chief medical officer confided that even on their wedding day, the two worked in the lab. The two geniuses and lovebirds form a “dream team”, still according to Matthias Kromayer, in the sense that they reconcile their visions with the constraints of reality.

Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci © Twitter

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