What do they know and won’t tell others?

BioNTech owners and staff will not use their own anti-Covid-19 vaccine to be inoculated. Why? For “safety reasons.”

That would be the same people who had been linked to the Pfizer fluid that some call vaccine, and that a growing number of governments try to impose on their people.

Speaking to Germany’s ARD Bericht, Uğur Şahin, one of BioNTech’s founders, said specifically that the health situation of the company’s ownership and employees was paramount and that they would not get vaccinated until they could be certain it would be perfectly safe.

ARD is not a second-class citizen in the world of broadcast journalism in Germany: founded in 1950, it joins the country’s regional public-service broadcasters into one network.

Impressive credentials

BioNTech (short for Biopharmaceutical New Technologies) is a German biotechnology company based in Mainz.

Started by an ambitious group of young scientists in 2008, BioNTech specialises in development and manufacturing of what is known as active immunotherapies. Its range is quite wide: aiming at what the medical community calls patient-specific approaches to treatment of diseases, it develops pharmaceutical candidates based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).

The expression, mRNA, has become frequent in recent debates about what some call vaccination, while others use words such as witchcraft to describe it.

The abbreviation stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. That, for the science of molecular biology, is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene, and is read by a ribosome in the process of synthesizing a protein.

Difficult for people not steeped in the science, this about sums it up: mRNA’s contribution to human health is questionable and therefore questioned.

BioNTech uses it as individualised cancer immunotherapies, as vaccines against infectious diseases and as protein replacement therapies for rare diseases, and also engineered cell therapy, novel antibodies and small molecule immunomodulators as treatment options for cancer.

If all that sounds like so much gobbledygook, it may be by design: why should the masses of the unwashed understand a single word of what those people with all kinds of abbreviations before and after their names are saying?

What counts now is this fact: BioNTech has developed what it calls an mRNA-based human therapeutic for intravenous administration to bring individualised mRNA-based cancer immunotherapy to clinical trials that would lead to its own manufacturing process.

And here it becomes interesting: BioNTech, together with American pharmaceutical company named Pfizer, developed what it calls the RNA vaccine BNT162b2.

The fluid, it said, would prevent Covid-19 infections.

Considering the fluid has not yet got through its final clinical tests (that won’t happen before the year 2023, according to both Pfizer and BioNTech’s own official documents), some were more than mildly surprised that British medical authorities permitted its use in the United Kingdom. After all, it was the first mRNA vaccine ever authorised. When the U.S., Canada and Switzerland followed suit with emergency use permits, the gasps around medical communities would become audible to all but the corresponding authorities.

Supporters of the idea called it a breakthrough for biotechnology.

What’s that?

Simply put, you can define biotechnology as an uncomfortably broad area of biology that includes the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products.

You can find its traces in a number of other scientific fields.

It has been developing by leaps and bounds. Since the late 20th and early 21st centuries, not many were surprised when it expanded to include as genomics, recombinant gene techniques, applied immunology, as well as (here we come) development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests. The original meaning, introduced in the early 1920s, included only the production of a variety of goods from raw materials with the aid of living organisms.

That the living organisms would include people was taken as read. It would take the openly criminal Nazi abuse of the idea (Dr. Josef Mengele, anyone?) to force the research community to establish and implement rules of ethics while conducting such experiments.

Has anyone yet seen the current authoritarian approach to the use of experimental substances and compared it to the basic ethical rules?

Pfizer Inc. hasn’t yet announced its own dedication to having its own owners and employees injected, but their silence is deafening.

Who are they?

BioNTech resides at An der Goldgrube 12, in the city of Mainz.

The address, unwittingly of unintentionally, perhaps, says it all: Goldgrube means golden hollow, or, should you wish, gold mine.

Uğur Şahin, a German oncologist and immunologist, is the co-founder of BioNTech, together with his wife, Özlem Türeci. He is the CEO of BioNTech, she is the CMO.

From HIS official biography: Şahin’s family, originally from Turkey, moved to Germany when he was four years old. He grew up in Cologne and studied medicine at the University of Cologne, completing a doctoral thesis there in cancer immunotherapy. He initially remained in academia, in patient care as an oncohematology physician and conducting research at university hospitals in Saarland and Zürich. He founded a research group at the University of Mainz in 2000 and became a professor of experimental oncology in 2006.

In 2001, while maintaining his position at the University of Mainz, Şahin began to engage in entrepreneurial activities, co-founding two pharmaceutical companies, in 2001 and 2008.

As a result of the company’s increase in value, Şahin and Türeci became the first Germans with Turkish roots among Germany’s 100 wealthiest people.

From HER official biography: Born in Lastrup, West Germany in 1967, Türeci is the daughter of Turkish immigrants. Her mother was a biologist. Her father, a surgeon. Before studying medicine, she hoped to become a nun.

She studied medicine at Saarland University in Homburg and received her doctorate from the Medical Faculty of Saarland in 1992. She was a Heisenberg fellow of the German Research Foundation. Her research focused on the identification and characterization of tumour-specific molecules and the development of immunotherapies against cancer.

While completing her final year of studies, Türeci met her future husband, Uğur Şahin, who was working at Saarland University Hospital in Homburg. They discovered that they shared an interest in using the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Impressive or what?

Indeed, even though it would take a sleuth of abilities better than Sherlock Holmes could ever muster to find the trace of money that allowed them to start a company that would enjoy such worldwide influence within a decade of its birth.

And it would take the mother of all impertinences to develop a fluid that would be called a vaccine and then not use it on themselves for their own safety reasons.

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