BioNTech’s German-Turkish founder says will deliver coronavirus vaccines worldwide
BioNTech, which has developed a 90 percent effective coronavirus vaccine, will produce 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021 and make it available worldwide, the Turkish owner of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech said on Nov. 11.
“We aim to deliver the first part, some millions of doses to the U.S. and Europe by January,” said Uğur Şahin, the Turkish-German doctor who has been in the headlines of media around the world after announcing the success of the vaccine on Nov. 9.
According to Şahin, their company has already opened a facility in Germany to start the production of the “BNT162b2” vaccine.
According to the media reports from the U.S., the price for each dose of the vaccines could be around 159 Turkish Liras.
“When the U.S. and European officials give their approval, we will start delivering the vaccines by December. Until the sixth month of 2021, we aim to produce and send 200-300 million doses,” said Şahin, who is running the company with his wife, Dr. Özlem Türeci, a German-Turk like himself.
Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Şahin also mentioned delivering the vaccine to Turkey.
“We need to sign a protocol with the Turkish Health Ministry. We have to know the need of the country. But we want to separate and spare the sufficient doses to Turkey,” Şahin said.
BioNTech is working with the American company Pfizer to form a network to distribute vaccines to the whole world.
“Our target is to produce between 1.3 and 1.5 billion doses by the end of 2021. Pfizer will produce 100 million doses a month in the U.S. while we will work in Germany. I think we will reach our target,” he said.
“We will cooperate with the U.S., EU, Japan, Britain and China for the distribution,” he added.
When asked, “Will the whole world get the vaccine?” the doctor spoke frankly, “the vaccine must be reachable not only to the rich countries but also to countries with weak economies. Working with other companies, I think we can send out the vaccines to the whole world.”
Noting that the vaccines will be shipped in special boxes that could maintain -70 degrees cold temperature, Şahin said, “The vaccines can be stored in normal refrigerators for up to five days, so by the time vaccines reach doctors and pharmacies, people will be able to get vaccinated by scheduling an appointment accordingly.”
Born in the İskenderun district of the southern Hatay district in 1965, Şahin moved to Germany with his parents when he was just four. His father was a Gastarbeiter, a Turkish migrant worker at a Ford factory in Cologne.
His wife, Dr. Türeci, who is BioNTech’s chief medical officer, was born in Germany and is the daughter of a Turkish physician who migrated to the country from Istanbul.
Şahin trained as a doctor, who studied in Cologne and Hamburg, before turning his focus to researching immunotherapy.
Today, the 55-year-old Şahin and his 53-year-old wife, are among the 100 richest Germans, with the value of their company BioNTech soaring to $21 billion in the wake of the vaccine breakthrough.