Germany’s Scientist Duo Wins Laurels For First Effective COVID-19 Vaccine

Mainz: Germany-based scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci have been catapulted into global spotlight as the brains behind the world’s first effective vaccine against COVID-19, CNN reported.

In a ground-breaking research, the couple used the never-before-approved technology called messenger RNA (mRNA) to spark an immune response in people who are vaccinated.

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which has partnered with the couple’s research company BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, said their candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infection in volunteers.

Speaking to CNN, Pfizer CEO’s Albert Bourla called it “the greatest medical advance” in the last 100 years.

On his part, 55-year-old Sahin said, “I think the good message for mankind is that we now understand that COVID-19 infections can be indeed prevented by a vaccine.”

While the vaccine is a huge step for the scientific community, Sahin and Tureci (53) are veterans in the world of medical achievements.

The pair, both trained physicians, established their previous company, Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, in 2001 to work on developing cancer-fighting antibodies, eventually selling it for $1.4 billion in 2016.

The two are listed among Germany’s 100 richest people, according to the weekly Welt am Sonntag newspaper. Last week, the market value of their Nasdaq-listed company BioNTech jumped to $25.72 billion, a massive leap from $4.6 billion last year.

But the couple’s charitable ethos and longstanding commitment to academia and science appear to have kept them grounded, even as their work on the Covid-19 vaccine propels them into the global spotlight.

In May, the couple told CNN they felt compelled to “provide something for society”, given the work they had done in their field over the last two decades.

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