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Couple behind promising COVID-19 vaccine remain modest, despite explosion of wealth

November 10, 2020 | 2:43am

A promising coronavirus vaccine that on Monday was revealed to be more than 90 percent effective is the work of a modest, married German couple who have become multi-billionaires with Pfizer’s backing.

Dr. Ozlem Tureci, 53 and her 55-year-old husband, Dr. Ugur Sahin, founders of BioNTech, are on the verge of successfully developing the COVID-19 vaccine with the same method they use to help fight tumors, The Times reported.

Sahin in January realized the threat of the coronavirus after reading an article in a medical journal about its spread in Wuhan — and the couple jumped into action on the vaccine within days of the bug’s arrival in Germany, the report said, citing The Financial Times.

With the vaccine, the couple and their colleagues at BioNTech have taken advantage of their existing cancer-fighting strategy of using messenger RNA (mRNA) to attack targets — in this case, the virus.

Pfizer partnered with BioNTech and pumped valuable funding into their vaccine development.

As a result, BioNTech’s share price skyrocketed and their company, founded in 2008, is now worth more than $23.6 billion.

Personally, the couple saw their own net worth increase by about $2.8 billion.

But the doctors, who met at Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, remain more concerned about medicine and not potential riches that come along with it, investors who know them told The Times.

Sahin still commutes to work via bike and remains a professor of oncology at University Hospital Mainz, the report said. He also reportedly ignores checking his company’s share price.

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