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BioNTech ‘turning every stone’ to scale up vaccine production, co-founder tells CNN

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In an exclusive interview with CNN, BioNTech co-founder and medical director Özlem Türeci said the company is “continually re-evaluating how even the goal we have already set could be exceeded.”

Despite certain limitations, such as the fact that “they can’t train people very quickly,” the company focuses on looking for partners “who can complement parts of this large network” of vaccine supply.

The company is also kept busy by the continuing need to test the robustness of its vaccine new variants of the virus.

According to their analyzes, the current vaccine has been found to be effective against variants first detected in the UK and South Africa, with Türeci stressing that the company’s priority is to determine “which variant is really worrying”.

Resources are being directed at “preparing for tomorrow in the event of this variant of concern: the processes by which we can adapt to a new variant,” Türeci added.

According to Türeci, the company uses its “fast and adaptable” mRNA platform to exchange the genetic sequence of the old variant with that of the new one. Clinical trial plans are also being rolled out, whereby the company discusses the switch in sequence with regulators in advance.

While the emerging variants are something BioNTech should take “seriously,” Türeci told CNN that “there are no reasons for fear right now.”

Türeci also spoke about how “a gender-balanced team is one of the key success factors” in BioNTech’s work, particularly boosting the company’s problem-solving capabilities.

“As scientists we are used to it, especially because we have always worked on technological innovation. We are used to solving problems and unknowns in real time. And that was a strong point that helped us on this path.”

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has generated worldwide praise for its high effectiveness, with a peer-reviewed study in Israel showing an 94% efficacy rate in the prevention of asymptomatic Covid-19.

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that real evidence from the Israeli Ministry of Health shows that two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine, its effectiveness was at least 97% in prevention. of symptomatic illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. The analysis also found that the vaccine was 94% effective in preventing asymptomatic Covid-19, where the infections show no symptoms.

“When we started our development last year in January, our goal was to make a difference for people around the world and help end this pandemic,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, co-founder, said in the announcement. and CEO of BioNTech. “A year after the declaration of a pandemic by the WHO, we now see that we are on the right track to achieving our goals.”

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