COVID-19 vaccine founders to begin studies on cancer in Türkiye
ISTANBUL – Demirören News Agency
Scientists Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, a Turkish-German couple who are the cofounders of BioNTech, the first effective COVID-19 vaccine that saved millions of lives, have said they are planning to start clinical studies in Türkiye next year under the BioNTech brand.
“We want to form a clinical team under an organization in Türkiye and enhance our clinical research in cancer and immunotherapies,” said Şahin at the press conference held in Istanbul after an award they received from the Vehbi Koç Foundation.
“We have appointed a general manager and are working on building this clinical team,” he said.
“In addition, we have some ongoing clinical studies in Türkiye as part of our collaborations. Our work on lung cancer is among them,” he added.
“As for what awaits us, we can say that at least we are waiting for an autumn and winter that will not be very eventful,” Şahin said, emphasizing that a new wave is in the offing, and we do not have any data that this one will be harmless, however.
The physician said that people better be prepared, as we might need to start wearing our masks again in autumn.
The scientist also pointed out that they shared the data showing that adapted vaccines outperformed their predecessors. “We hope that we will not need vaccines again, but if we do, I would like to point out that these ones are available,” he added.
“We are currently developing vaccines at a frequency close to that of the Omicron vaccine,” he said. “We will try to get approval for the new vaccine toward next winter.”
“In addition to studies on diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and autoimmune diseases, our COVID-19 studies continue as well as the pandemic is not completely over,” Türeci said, adding that their studies will continue in the field of fighting cancer.
“We want to continue our work in Türkiye and be more active in Türkiye,” she added.
The award ceremony organized by the Vehbi Koç Foundation was held at Koç University on June 26. The couple received the Vehbi Koç Foundation Outstanding Service to Humanity Award.
“It is a great honor for us to be deemed worthy of this prestigious award because you don’t need to be a superhero to be appreciated for making a brave decision, choosing an unknown path, or making a difference and contributing to humanity,” Türeci said at the ceremony.
“I appreciate the Vehbi Koç Foundation for initiating this award and hope that it will inspire and motivate many people,” she stated.
“We were delighted when we were asked if we would like to accept the award for the first time,” Şahin said. “We started by saving a single person in the beginning. If you can save a single human being, you can save humanity,” he added.