Turkish scientists who developed the COVID-19 vaccine became hope for humanity!

by The Istanbul Post


According to the statement made by BioNTech with it’s US partner Pfizer the previous day, the vaccine candidate named BNT162b2 developed against coronavirus (COVID-19) proved to be more than 90 percent effective in ongoing phase 3 trials. This paved the way for an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval.

BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, founded by a Turkish-born couple, placed first in the global race to develop a vaccine that will end the COVID-19 crisis, which threatens human health and economies.

In 1960, while contributing to the prosperity of the country guest workers who came to Germany from Turkey, scientist expats children in both Turkish migrants, this successfully in Germany who hope to humanity both in Germany and been demonstrated to be useful much to the world.

Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin

Born in Iskenderun in 1965, Ugur Sahin immigrated with his mother when he was 4 years old to his father (Cologne), who worked at the Ford factory in Germany.

Ugur Sahin, who dreamed of becoming a doctor as a child, studied medicine at the University of Cologne and worked as a doctor at the Cologne University Clinic. Afterwards, Sahin moved to Saarland University in Homburg with his teacher Michael Pfreundschuh and continued his academic studies there. Sahin, who later moved to Mainz University with his wife Ozlem Tureci, continues his scientific studies in the field of oncology as both an administrator and a lecturer.

Known in the medical world, Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin was awarded by the German Cancer Society for his research in 2019.

While his friends describe Sahin as “incredibly humble and very humble” despite his achievements, it is stated that Sahin, who goes to work by bicycle, entered the meetings with his bicycle helmet and backpack.

Dr. Ozlem Tureci

One of the founders of BioNTech, Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin’s wife, Dr. Ozlem Tureci became a Board Member of BioNTech in 2018, after 10 years as a member of the Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board at the company. Tureci started to manage the clinical development department as the “Chief Medical Officer”.

Tureci, the daughter of a doctor father who immigrated to Germany from Istanbul, met his husband Ugur Sahin at Saaraland University in Homburg, where he completed his education.

In an interview, Tureci explained that his father often took her to the hospital where he was working as a child, and he loves to work. Tureci stated that they went to the laboratory for studies even on the day of their wedding in the municipality.

The Sahin-Tureci couple sold their first joint company, Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, which they founded in 2001, to the Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer Astellas in 2016 for more than 400 million euros.

“Speed ​​of Light” Project Against COVID-19:

Taking action after the COVID-19 outbreak broke out in Hubey province of China, Sahin and Tureci suspended cancer research at the BioNTech company.

Focusing on vaccine production by gathering the company’s research team in January 2020, Prof. Dr. Sahin developed the “Lightspeed” project to develop a drug “with the speed of light” against COVID-19.

BioNTech focused on developing the vaccine through its innovative “mRNA” technique, which uses genetic material to instruct cells to produce disease-fighting proteins rather than pathogens.

BioNTech led its technology against cancer to fight COVID-19 BioNTech, operating in Mainz, Germany, was founded in 2008 by Sahin, Tureci and Austrian cancer specialist Christoph Huber.

Before the epidemic, BioNTech focused on work to develop drugs against cancer based on mRNA genetic molecules, a single-chain basis of DNA, with approximately 1,500 employees.

The company has the advantage of being able to develop vaccines faster than traditional vaccines by directing this technology, which it has obtained against cancer, to fight with COVID-19.

Sahin told the German press that BioNTech developed 20 vaccine candidates based on mRNA technology, while a large part of the world was implementing strict measures against the virus in March.

While most of the vaccine candidates were eliminated, the vaccine candidate named BNT162b2 stood out against COVID-19.

Sahin emphasized that the first licensing of an mRNA-based treatment would lead to a revolution in medicine and pharmacy.

Collaboration with Pfizer:

BioNTech, which signed a cooperation agreement with the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on the development of influenza vaccines in 2018, increased its cooperation with Pfizer and announced on March 17th that they will collaborate in the development of the mRNA-based BNT162b2 vaccine.

In the joint statement of the companies, it was stated that Pfizer’s development, regulation and commercial capabilities were matched with BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine technology and expertise to create common synergy.

While Pfizer’s name was highlighted in the said vaccine candidate in the Western press, it was noteworthy that its technology was BioNTech.

It was noted that if the COVID-19 vaccine is found, the intellectual property rights will be BioNTech.

In the American, British, French, Italian and German press, many reports were made about Sahin and Tureci with headlines such as “Those fighting against the pandemic”, “Will Doctor Ugur Sahin be the savior of the crisis?”, “The father of the German vaccine miracle”.

Some newspapers have also commented that the couple may be a favorite for the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Support of up to 375 million Euros from the German government

Supported by the German government up to 375 million euros to support the “rapid development” of the vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19, BioNTech also worked on the development, clinical tests and marketing of the BNT162b2 vaccine with China-based Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Fosun Pharma) in March. union agreement made.

BioNTech acquired the plant of Novartis, which is headquartered in Switzerland, in Marburg and has 300 employees for vaccine production.

Target to produce 1.3 billion doses of vaccine by 2021

As many countries compete to sign contracts for millions of vaccine doses, BioNTech plans to produce 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020 and about 1.3 billion doses in 2021 with it’s partner Pfizer.

Pfizer and BioNTech have signed preliminary agreements with the US, European Union (EU), UK, Canada and Japan for the supply of the vaccine.

The companies made a $1.95 billion deal to provide the US government with 100 million doses of vaccine starting this year.

The EU Commission also announced that it will soon sign a final contract with these companies to receive up to 300 million doses of vaccine.

Shares increased by more than 600 percent after the IPO

BioNTech, whose shares went public in the US on the Nasdaq stock exchange in October 2019, had raised $150 million, selling fewer shares than expected at a lower-than-planned price. After the public offering, the value of the company was announced as $3.4 billion dollars. The company’s 2019 revenues were recorded as $109 million.

The company’s shares rose to $ 112, gaining more than 25 percent after the announcement that the potential vaccine it was developing against COVID-19 was more than 90 percent effective against the virus. While the share value increase was more than 600 percent after the public offering, the market value of the company approached approximately 27 billion dollars.

With these developments, Sahin and Tureci became one of the 100 richest people in Germany.

BioNTech could earn $13 billion from vaccine sales next year

Meanwhile, according to analysis by Morgan Stanley, the US investment banking and financial services firm, Pfizer and BioNTech could earn about $13 billion from the sale of the COVID-19 dose vaccine next year.

The price of 39 dollars (19.5 dollars for each dose of vaccine) was determined in the agreement made with the US government for the supply of the vaccine candidate, which was administered in two doses.

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