The scientists behind the vaccine are a Turkish-German couple, Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci who have dedicated their lives to the field of oncology and infectious disease and have spent years pioneering immunotherapy treatments for cancer.
The couple established BioNtech in 2008 in Germany. Last week, the company’s partner Pfizer said their candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infection. The couple has felt compelled for several months to “provide something for society” given the work they had done in their field for the last two decades.
Along with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, there are several other vaccines in late stage development in the U.S. including one from Moderna Inc. which is also developing a mRNA vaccine expected to be released soon.