People all around the world have been desperately waiting for the coronavirus vaccine and chances are that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine could be the answer to what we’ve been looking for all this while.

Who is responsible for making the vaccine?

Being termed as the ‘dream team’, married couple, Ugur Sahin and Oezlem Tuereci are the brains behind Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine that was found to be 90% effective in preventing the coronavirus based on a study that was conducted recently.

Ugur is the CEO and the co-founder of the German biotech firm, BioNTech which is responsible for making the vaccine. And, his wife Oezlem Tuereci is a fellow board member in the company. 

Coming from a humble background as the son of a Turkish immigrant working at a Ford factory in Cologne, BioNTech Chief Executive is now among the 100 richest Germans.

Despite his achievements, Sahin has always remained down to earth and humble. His friend/colleague, Matthias Kromayer, board member of venture capital firm MIG AG, whose funds have backed BioNTech since its inception in 2008, while giving an interview said: 

He never changed from being incredibly humble and personable. Sahin would typically walk into business meetings wearing jeans and carrying his signature bicycle helmet and backpack with him.

The couple who have devoted their lives to harnessing the immune system against cancer and are working towards a potential vaccine that can possibly defeat the coronavirus.

From the very beginning, Sahin wanted to study medicine and become a physician. After completing his graduation, he worked at a teaching hospital in Cologne and the southwestern city of Homburg, and that’s where he met the love of his life Tuereci, during his early academic career. 

On the other hand, Tuereci, Sahin’s wife is the daughter of a Turkish physician who migrated to Germany.

For both of them, medical research and oncology became a shared passion. In fact, on the day of their wedding both of them made time for lab work. That just goes on to show how much they love what they do.

Together, they tried to find a potential ally in the fight against cancer and they also tried to understand the unique genetic makeup of each tumour. And, it was only in 2001 that they set up Ganymed Pharmaceuticals to develop cancer-fighting antibodies.

Even during this time Sahin found time to teach as a professor at Mainz university. He never gave up on academic research and teaching even as his business started to grow over the years. 

BioNTech came into the picture after Sahin came across a scientific paper on the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China during the month of January. It was then that it struck him how small the step was from anti-cancer mRNA drugs to mRNA-based viral vaccines.

Without wasting any time, his firm assigned about 500 staff to project “light speed” to work on several possible compounds, after which they came into a joint partnership with pharma giant Pfizer and Chinese drugmaker Fosun in March. 

Now, as of last week, BioNTech’s value stands at $21 billion compared to $4.6 billion from last year.