On Monday, November 9th, Pfizer and BioNTech declared a breakthrough in the progress of developing the vaccine against COVID-19. The phase 3 trials show that the vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing the infection on volunteers. The scientists behind this success are also grabbed the attention of the media being Turkish scientists in Germany, Prof. Uğur Şahin, co-founder and CEO, and Dr. Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech.
Update on November 19, 2020: Uğur Şahin, BioNTech Chief Executive Officer, announced to Reuters that if all goes well, the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the second half of December. Its distribution could begin before the New Year. For detailed information, read more.
More Than 90% Effective in Fighting the Infection
COVID-19 spread worldwide when the first breakout happened in Wuhan City, China, and was reported in December 2019. The global pandemic affected more than 49 million people. The hunt for a vaccine began and all doctors and pharmaceutical companies worked on finding a cure to end this tragedy, and at last one of them came out with successful results.
On November 9th, 2020 BioNTech that is based in Germany, and its partner Pfizer (US-based) announced to the public that the first results from the ongoing trials showed that the vaccine was 90% effective against COVID-19. They are the first two companies that have come with positive results in preventing the disease in preliminary results. If approved by component authorities, the vaccine could be ready to use by the end of the year.
The Turkish Scientists Give Hope to Finding Cure
The news has made a huge impact on the public and gave hope to people all around the world, making everybody curious as to who was behind the vaccine that could put a stop to this pandemic and save lives. Prof. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, the founders of the BioNTech company made the Turkish people proud. They have been working on the mRNA technology for about 25 years that they use in the development of the coronavirus vaccine.
A Final Breakthrough
Prof. Uğur Şahin talks about the vaccine as follows: "The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19. This is a victory for innovation, science, and a global collaborative effort. When we embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what we aspired to achieve. Especially today, while we are all in the midst of a second wave and many of us in lockdown, we appreciate even more how important this milestone is on our path towards ending this pandemic and for all of us to regain a sense of normality. We will continue to collect further data as the trial continues to enroll for a final analysis planned when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making this important achievement possible."
Also, Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, adds that “Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19."
Prof. Dr. Şahin said that when they have learned about the efficacy data of the vaccine on Sunday night, he and Dr. Türeci marked the moment by brewing Turkish tea at home.