"We look forward to the day when we can start vaccinating"

Chancellor's virtual visit to vaccine developer BioNTech "We look forward to the day when we can start vaccinating"

In a video call with Professor Dr Şahin and Dr Türeci, Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the exceptional scientific achievement of the company they founded. BioNTech. Within only a few months, BioNTech has managed to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, which is about to be approved for use in the EU.

Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Uğur Şahin, founder of the vaccine company BioNTech.

Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Uğur Şahin, founder of the vaccine company BioNTech.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

"We are incredibly proud to have research scientists like you in our country," said Chancellor Angela Merkel during her virtual visit to vaccination company BioNTech. "Congratulations on what you have achieved." The Chancellor pointed to the months of hard graft and phenomenal effort that culminated in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. "You didn’t throw in the towel. You believed in your technology."

The resulting vaccine, said the Chancellor, is both "the reflection of an incredible individual achievement in the field of research" and "the reflection of our overall approach, of the fact that we believe in science, and that we support science". "We are looking forward to the day when we can start vaccinating – when the vaccine is approved," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel. In view of the current high numbers of COVID-19 deaths, it is clear how many lives can be saved by vaccinations.

"Grounds for optimism in the pandemic "

According to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, who also attended the video conference, the German-made vaccine "gives the world grounds for optimism, in this pandemic". If the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the vaccine for use before Christmas, vaccinations can begin in Germany on 27 December, declared the minister, once the Paul Ehrlich Institute has checked the vaccine batches. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek pointed out how important she finds trust. "I keep stressing at the moment that no shortcuts have been taken in assessing the safety and the effectiveness of the vaccine."

"The last twelve months have been very, very exciting for our team," said BioNTech founder Uğur Şahin. The development of a vaccine for COVID-19 was "something that was close to his heart". Without the support of the decades of pure research on which this vaccine builds, and without the support he received when founding BioNTech, this success would not have been possible in his view. He also believes that international cooperation is indispensable. "The milestone of making this vaccine available to our fellow citizens in Germany will soon be reached," adds Dr Türeci from BioNTech. She supports the recommendation that high-risk groups and people exposed to a higher risk because they work with COVID-19 patients should be vaccinated first.

Click here to watch the full video conference.