Biontech Vaccine Creators: ‘we Have Tools to Cut Covid Deaths Dramatically’

So yet again, Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin were giving a speech to the world. By last Wednesday, it had been only two years since the wife and husband had taken out time to sit over breakfast one morning, with their young daughter.

There, in their two-bedroom apartment in Mainz, Germany, Sahin had talked about his opinions regarding a paper he had detected in The Lancet that explained a new disease in a city in China.

It’s been almost over a year since the duo, co-founders of a drug company that had never been into the production of any certified drugs, announced that they had finally produced the first-ever vaccine to fight against the disease.

The Pair Are More Alarmed

And once again, they are back this week with a new confirmation and back to convince us that there was expectation saying that another vaccine might be on the way.

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Türeci said “We never said, ‘OK, the mission is done and the goal is achieved’,” adding “We cannot predict how the virus will forever evolve.” She says she had believed that by now she would be returned to the day job, diagnosing cancer but she is also not at all astonished that she is still only working in as the West’s maximum hope of putting an end to a global pandemic.

Neither Sahin is surprised. He expresses “Omicron is a different story compared to Alpha and Beta, and we are more alarmed,” adding, “I think we clearly stated that the virus was here to stay with us. And we also stated that we will see a new normal. We are,” he says, “living this new normal at the moment.”

As per their laboratory tests, the two doses of vaccine were rarely able to catch the infection from the new variant, however, they are capable of preventing the severeness from the virus.

They also presented that a third dose, the same third dose presently being taken by the millions of Britons, provided solid, although still minimized, protection.

And finally, Sahin and Türeci were there to claim that they had already modified the vaccine to fight against Omicron particularly and, if required, the first slots could be made available within 100 days.

“It is hard, I tell Sahin, not to feel like nothing has changed.” Once again, it’s winter and prohibitions are being imposed yet again, our hope is a vaccine, yet again.

But with the new surge in cases as the new Omicron variant is spreading rapidly it won’t take much time for the next wave of Covid.  If this continues to be so. Are we no further on?

He claims “This is a good question,” adding, “I asked myself the same question this morning.” But he asserts it is very different. The key is to have faith that decreased protection is way better in comparison to zero protection.

He added “We are not optimal, but the disease is not so scary anymore. We have tools in our hands that dramatically reduce the deaths of the elderly. I would not say we are safe, but we are in a more comfortable situation.”

What Led Them to Switch to Research From Medicine?

Now that they have become billionaires, Türeci doesn’t appear to be infatuated with the type of house with that many additional rooms that they are bound to begin making up names.

She said, “I have to say, a two-bedroom apartment is much more convenient because you do not need to do all this cleaning and sorting and housekeeping. We’ll probably move back,” not clear if she said this jokingly.

They came together because of cancer. They are kids of Turkish immigrants. Türeci was relatively more middle class, the daughter of a surgeon. 

And later, one day they met on a cancer ward. People were losing their lives around them due to a disease, the cause of which is a misprogramming of the body, by the unregulated division of cells and an immune system that are not able to detect them.

To diagnose it, you could, utilize the grim medical slogan, cut, poison, or burn. Surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.

They had an idea, in accord with the outlook of medical research. They desired to work with a more delicate pillar of treatment. What if they could train the body’s immune system to spot cancer and prevent it?

With this objective, they switched from medicine to research. In 2002, when they married, right after the ceremony, they returned to the laboratory so that they could do an afternoon’s work.

Biotech Wasn’t Their First Company

Their first company was not BioNTech; they had sold off another cancer company for an estimated amount of €400 million. It was time instead of money that stopped them from relocating from their two-bedroom flat. However, BioNTech was the one that turned out to be their big idea.

Nearly over a month earlier, Omicron didn’t come into existence. Late last month, the South African health ministry announced that the new variant spreads faster and then BioNTech started to prepare for testing the virus by taking the blood samples of vaccinated people. 

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There were several steps involved in it. Firstly, they had to check the genetic series of the virus, then keep track of its changes. Sahin says “Then the next move is manufacturing.” They have to prepare a DNA template, to make the RNA for initial testing, then more templates for vast manufacturing.

There is a “24/7 team” for coordinating it. Their responsibility is “to make sure manufacturing and testing can be done in parallel. The teamwork day and night.”

Last year, a cancer company turned into a vaccine company, and now, this year it is turning into a variant company.

Sahin claims “The whole organization is now an Omicron workstream,” adding “and is ready to shoot.”

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