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New coronavirus vaccine by drug company founded by Turkish immigrants to Germany

November 10, 2020 at 2:41 pm

The firm that invented the #Pfizer vaccine, Biontech, is a German medical startup founded by the children of Turkish immigrants: Özlem Türeci (CMO) and Uğur Şahin (CEO) [@COdendahl/Twitter]

A married couple of Turkish heritage stands behind German biotech firm BioNTech that partnered with Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 experimental vaccine, which was announced yesterday as being more than 90 per cent effective in preventing the novel coronavirus.

Pfizer said its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study.

Pfizer and BioNTech are the first drugmakers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek US emergency use authorisation later this month.

READ: Israel asks for US help in getting potential Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

From humble roots as the son of a Turkish immigrant working at a Ford factory in Cologne, BioNTech Chief Executive Uğur Şahin, 55, now figures among the 100 richest Germans, together with his wife and fellow board member Özlem Türeci, 53, according to German weekly Welt am Sonntag.

“He is a very modest and humble person. Appearances mean little to him. But he wants to create the structures that allow him to realise his visions and that’s where his aspirations are far from modest,” Matthias Theobald, a fellow oncology professor at Mainz University who has worked with Şahin for 20 years, said.

The couple’s life story has reminded people of the value immigrants can bring to the societies that welcome them.

According to OECD report, for the last 50 years, immigration has been on the rise, particularly in OECD member countries. The report says if the governments give them opportunities, they support society.