Inside the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine: how BioNTech made the breakthrough
The couple behind the German company are pioneers in a technology that could transform medicine
The call came on the evening of November 8, as doctors Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci were catching up with paperwork at their modest home near the German city of Mainz. It confirmed that their at-times-controversial lives’ work had produced a breakthrough that could offer humanity a route out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A vaccine candidate developed by the company they cofounded 12 years ago, BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease, a far higher level than the widely used jabs for flu, shingles or rabies. It proved for the first time that the deadly virus could be vanquished by science.
But even as they basked in the good news — the teetotallers celebrated by brewing some black tea — neither Sahin nor his research partner and wife Tureci are able to explain precisely why their precious product, code-named BNT162b2, works...