April 14, 2021

The co-founder of BioNTech designed the coronavirus vaccine it made with Pfizer in just a few hours over a single day

The FDA granted emergency authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday evening.

The vaccine, which was found to be 95% effective in trials, was designed by BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin in one day: January 25.

In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal’s podcast, Sahin designed the vaccine in just a few hours.

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The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday.

The two-dose vaccine is the first to be authorized in the US, though Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will likely receive FDA authorization this month as well.

After months of testing, the vaccine was found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a large-scale trial. Its development process was unprecedentedly fast – no other vaccine in history has been created and manufactured so quickly. Previously, the fastest vaccine ever developed took more than four years.

But perhaps most remarkably, BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin designed the vaccine in just a few hours in mid-January, according to The Journal, a podcast from Gimlet and The Wall Street Journal.

A BioNTech spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that Sahin – who founded the company with his wife, Özlem Türeci – made a “rough design over one weekend.”

Moderna’s vaccine also took just two days to design, as Business Insider previously reported. The reason both candidates could be designed so quickly comes down to the technology they rely on: messenger RNA, or mRNA.

The FDA had never approved an mRNA-based vaccine or treatment before. But now that the agency has granted authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech – with Moderna’s likely to follow shortly – mRNA vaccines could set a new industry standard.

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