THE husband and wife behind the new coronavirus vaccine reportedly spent their wedding day in the lab as they dedicated their lives to medical research.
Ugur Sahin, 55, and his wife Oezlem Tuereci, 53, have been hailed the “dream team” behind the new jab, which their company BioNTech has helped develop with pharma firm Pfizer.
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Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and Dr. Ozlem Tureci, the husband and wife behind Covid vaccine that could change the worldCredit: Focus
Professor Ugur Sahin, one of the founders of BioNTech, is said to be a modest man despite his scientific breakthroughs Credit: PA:Press Association
Dr. Ozlem Tureci once said she and her husband made time for lab work on their wedding day
Yesterday, the firms announced the jab is 90% effective in protecting against coronavirus.
The Government has bought 40million doses from drugs giant Pfizer — with ten million hoping to become available before Christmas.
The news comes after Dr Sahin and Dr Tuereci dedicated their lives to medical research, with Dr Tuereci once telling an interviewer they even made time for lab work on their wedding day.
The pair, whose parents both migrated to Germany, co-founded BioNTech in 2008 after setting up their previous firm Ganymed Pharmaceuticals which sold for £1.06billion in 2016.
Together they honed in on the immune system as a potential ally in the fight against cancer and tried to address the unique genetic makeup of each tumour.
In creating BioNTech, they aimed to pursue a much broader range of cancer immunotherapy tools.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested £41.8million in the company, which also works on HIV and tuberculosis programmes.
And Dr Sahin and Dr Tureci are now among the 100 richest Germans, according to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
Despite their hefty price tag, colleagues say Mr Sahin is a calm and measured man who is more interested in reading scientific journals than checking the company’s share price.
Matthias Kromayer, a board member of venture capital firm MIG AG, whose funds have backed BioNTech, said: “Despite his achievements, he never changed from being incredibly humble and personable.”
He added Mr Sahin would typically walk into business meetings wearing jeans and carrying his signature bicycle helmet and backpack with him.
And Matthias Theobald, a fellow oncology professor at Mainz university who has worked with Mr Sahin for 20 years, said: “He is a very modest person. Appearances mean little to him.”
It was confirmed on Monday that in one of the first mass tests of a coronavirus vaccine, up to 90 per cent of people were protected from the virus.
The news is a huge boost to hopes for a safe vaccine to be rolled out across the UK and around the world.
However, both No10 and Boris Johnson played down the news and told the nation not to stop social distancing and following the strict lockdown rules.
The PM told the nation: “We’ve cleared one significant hurdle… [but] We absolutely cannot rely on this news as a solution.”
Jonathan Van Tam said it was an “important scientific breakthrough” and thanked scientists and volunteers for helping.
The next step will be to see whether it’s safe – expected to arrive in the coming days.
He said: “Right now the message is stand fast rather than get too overexcited about quite where we are.”
But he was “hopeful” that if all goes well, the vaccine could be being rolled out by Christmas.
The jab could be rolled out imminently
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