In profile: Husband and wife ‘dream team’ behind the Covid-19 vaccine

December 2, 2020 9:35:15 AM

In profile: Husband and wife ‘dream team’ behind the Covid-19 vaccine

Physicians Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci are the husband and wife ‘dream team’ behind the breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine that will soon be rolled out across the UK.

The UK is the first country in the world to approve the vaccine, which is shown to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.

BioNTech chief executive Prof Sahin worked alongside his wife and the firm’s chief medical officer, Dr Tureci, to develop the jab.

BioNTech began preparing against the coronavirus in January after Prof Sahin read an article in a medical journal that left him convinced the virus would spread into a full-blown pandemic.

BioNTech, founded just 12 years ago, has been working alongside 171-year-old titan of the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer.

Prof Sahin came to Germany from Turkey when he was four years old. He graduated as a doctor from the University of Cologne in 1990.

Dr Tureci also of Turkish heritage, earned her MD at the Saarland University Faculty of Medicine in Homburg, Germany, and is now also the president of the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Bonded by a shared love of medical research and oncology, the couple founded BioNTech in 2008, with the aim of pursuing a broader range of cancer immunotherapy tools.

How the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine works
(PA Graphics)

On their wedding day in 2002, according to reports, the pair only briefly left their work at the lab to attend the registery office.

While the couple are said to be worth billions, Prof Sahin still reportedly cycles to work.

They are ranked 93rd among the richest Germans, according to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine – enough to vaccinate 20 million people.

Around 10 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be available for use in the UK in the coming weeks for priority groups, including healthcare workers, with 800,000 doses arriving next week.

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