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Herd Immunity Is Goal: Turkish-German Vaccine Developer

Ozlem Tureci, developer of Pfizer-BioNTech virus jab with Turkish-born spouse, says boosting vaccines can offset variants

The Turkish-German scientist who co-developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine said Monday the “grand mission” is “herd immunity” with enough jabs administered to tame the virus.

In achieving this goal, Dr. Ozlem Tureci stressed that no one will be safe until everyone is safe.

Tureci addressed a biweekly World Health Organization (WHO) press webinar to celebrate International Women’s Day and spoke of her “three worlds” as a trained physician in patient care, an immunologist rooted in academic science, and an entrepreneur immersed in the biopharma industry.

“The grand mission is to achieve herd immunity,” she said.

“The last 14 months have brought us closer to this aim,” said Tureci, who founded the German company BioNTech with her Turkish-born husband Ugur Sahin, who teamed up with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer for one of the first vaccines to gain widespread approval.

“Mission herd immunity means no one will be safe until everyone is safe across genders, ethnicities, economies, and nations,” said Tureci.

The WHO says on its website, “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.”

“We at BioNTech/Pfizer are proud to be part of the solution, and the more of our peers who are successful with their vaccine developments, the better for the world.”

She said that not all virus variants will be of concern.

“Against many variants, just boosting with the original vaccine will suffice,” said the scientist.


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