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Turkish-German vaccine founders FT's People of the Year

'They are symbol of remarkable scientific, business success story,' Financial Times describes Turkish-German scientists

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal   | 16.12.2020
Turkish-German vaccine founders FT's People of the Year

LONDON

Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin, who shed a bright light over billions of people across the world by developing Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, are named the People of the Year by British daily the Financial Times.

“By developing a Covid vaccine in less than a year, the couple achieved a remarkable scientific and business success,” the FT said in an article on Wednesday.

“We were nervous,” Dr Sahin was quoted by the daily.

“It is different when people are vaccinated for the first time outside a trial, in the real world setting,” Sahin told the FT.

The pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which Dr. Ugur Sahin and his wife Dr. Ozlem Tureci, founded in 2008, managed to develop an experimental vaccine together with its American partner Pfizer.

Sahin, who is BioNTech’s CEO, announced positive results from the Phase 3 trials and expressed hope that their efforts would help bring an end to the global health crisis. Since the first announcement, which said the jab provided 90% protection against COVID-19, the rate has increased to 95%.

“As creators of the first vaccine to win approval by two of the world’s most credible regulators, however, the FT’s award has gone to Dr Sahin and Dr Tureci,” the FT said.

“They are the symbol of a remarkable scientific and business success story.”

Migrants’ success

The success of Sahin and Tureci, renowned scientists in the field of oncology and immunology in Germany, made headlines after the announcement both in local and international media outlets.

“The German couple behind the vaccine are an immigrant success story,” British daily The Telegraph reported, highlighting that both scientists were from Germany’s three-million-strong Turkish community.

The German daily Der Tagesspiegel used the headline “How children of immigrants became multi-billionaires: The couple behind the corona-vaccine” while reporting their achievements and described this as an example of successful integration.

Both Sahin and Tureci were born to immigrant parents from Turkey who moved to Germany in the 1960s.

Sahin, who was born in Iskenderun, Turkey, in 1965, arrived in Germany as a 4-year-old, where his father worked in a car factory. He studied medicine at the University of Cologne and worked several years at Saarland University Medical Center.

Tureci is the daughter of a Turkish physician who emigrated to Germany from Istanbul. She studied medicine at the Saarland University Faculty of Medicine and become a pioneer in cancer immunotherapy in Germany.

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