BioNTech founders expect COVID-19 vaccines to be available for all in 2022
Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci in Oviedo, Spain to receive Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research
Speaking at a press conference in Oviedo, Spain, where they will later accept the prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, the husband and wife duo said that all vaccines will help achieve this goal.
At BioNTech, their company that worked alongside Pfizer to develop the first approved COVID-19 vaccine, they said they are currently sending 40% of vaccines to developing countries, and are working to add production to underserved regions.
“We see this as an opportunity to make those countries self-sustainable. We have already started to build production facilities regionally not only to deliver the vaccines there, but also to help them set up their own ecosystems and learn the skills. This is not trivial. Such a vaccine process needs know-how. It will take a bit of time but we think it is worth the effort,” said Tureci, explaining why she did not agree with patent wavers.
The Turkish-German scientists said they expect the results from clinical trials that they started in 2012 about fighting cancer to be available within the next four to five years.
“While it might sound like science fiction that you can manufacture an on-demand vaccine that is individualized and unique for the patient, this is how we started many years ago and what made us interested in mRNA,” said Tureci.
So far, the treatments have shown safety and the ability to shrink and control tumors by activating patients’ immune systems against their particular cancer, she added.
“It’s a rigorous scientific development process and I think such vaccines will be feasible and part of our standard clinical care,” she explained.
In the evening, the Spanish royal family will present both scientists, alongside other key figures in the COVID-19 vaccine development, with the award. Several Princess Asturias Award Laureates have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.
“We are very happy and feel blessed that we could contribute to the pandemic response and to the process of showing that science can conquer crises of a global scale,” said Tureci.