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Coronavirus: Man behind Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine says it can end pandemic

Web report/Dubai
Filed on November 13, 2020
FILE PHOTO: Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of German biotech firm BioNTech, is interviewed by journalists in Marburg, Germany September 17, 2020.

(Reuters)

BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin says he is confident vaccine can ‘bash the virus over the head’.

The man behind the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass interim clinical trials has expressed his optimism that his candidate can “bash the virus over the head” and end the pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the world this year.

Also read: Coronavirus vaccine: Meet the husband-and-wife 'dream team' behind Pfizer's candidate

BioNTech’s chief executive, Ugur Sahin, made his bold remarks in the week that his firm and the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer revealed that that their jointly developed vaccine candidate had proved 90 per cent effective in stopping people from falling ill.

A buoyant Sahin told Britain's The Guardian newspaper: “If the question is whether we can stop this pandemic with this vaccine, then my answer is: yes, because I believe that even protection only from symptomatic infections will have a dramatic effect."

"It was possible that the virus isn’t really targeted by the vaccine, finds its way into the cells and continues to make people ill. We now know that vaccines can beat this virus," Sahin added, alluding to his initial fears that his vaccine might not trigger enough of a reaction from the human immune system.

The 55-year-old is confident that high efficacy results from the vaccine will prove that it prevents the spread of the virus in addition to merely stopping people from becoming ill.

He added that the vaccine attacks the virus "in more ways than one".

BioNTech, a firm founded in 2008 by the German scientists and married couple Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, as well as the Austrian oncologist Christoph Huber, developed its vaccine with an experimental method known as mRNA.

The mRNA method merely requires the virus’s genetic code, thus reducing the production process by almost three months.

Conventional vaccines take genetic information from a virus and cultivate it in a human cell.

Sahin went on to pay tribute to Pfizer's rich experience in mass-market vaccines, which helped accelerate the vaccine development process to 10 months as opposed to years.

He added: “The vaccine hinders Covid-19 from gaining access to our cells. But even if the virus manages to find a way in, then the T-cells bash it over the head and eliminate it. We have trained the immune system very well to perfect these two defensive moves. We now know that the virus can’t defend itself against these mechanisms.”





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