“Covid will become controllable. It has begun to become controllable,” Dr. Ozlem Tureci said in the latest episode of “CNBC Dialogue.”
However, she added that we will “need to return to a new normal, because this virus will still be with us for several years.”
When asked about her concerns about the new coronavirus variants, she said that BioNTech “continuously evaluates the upcoming variants, and there will be more.”
“For all these variants currently in fashion, it seems that the use of boosters alone to restore the weakened immune response to a high level is appropriate and does have a protective effect,” she said.
“However, we must continue to screen because there may be variants that are about to emerge, but this is not the case. For this, we have a second pillar, that is, we are ready to get to a variant quickly and quickly if we need to adapt.. …. We are conducting these trial runs with regulators, not individually, so that they are also prepared for potential conversion needs,” Tureck told CNBC.
Tureci co-founded Germany-based BioNTech in 2008 with her husband and CEO Ugur Sahin. She said that more data is needed to guide the escape from the pandemic, but she can imagine that future boosters can be given “every 12 months or every 18 months.”
The company’s main focus is to “create personalized immunotherapy” for cancer drugs and use its mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology to stimulate the body’s own immune response. It is also committed to the development of a malaria vaccine.
“So we already have the science and knowledge about immune mechanisms and how they can be used to fight the virus and can use it,” Tureck said.
“The other pillar we are dealing with is our technology, which is mRNA technology, which allows [it] Used as a vaccine form, which means it allows [it] Communicate with the immune system and teach it how to deal with this new enemy with high precision. ”
“And this technology, because we have used it in clinical trials for cancer patients, has matured. We know how to use it for clinical trials, how to use it to treat humans, and how to build a manufacturing process,” she added. .
The company’s experience means it can develop a vaccine in less than a year.
When asked whether this is also the case for all other vaccines in the future, Turec told CNBC that “response to this global threat requires great attention,” but lessons can be learned and advanced.
“I think there are a few things that can help us faster if we transfer them to future drug development. In addition, for example, for non-pandemic infections, there are cancers and autoimmune diseases,” she said .
Since the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is also led by female scientists, Tureck believes that such a striking example of gender balance in science is “very important” and is one of the reasons behind BioNTech’s success.
“Actually, I really believe that one of the secrets of our success as a team and a company is that we are a gender-balanced team. Almost half of our employees are women, and among the top management, half of us are Women. The team is women,” she said.
“However, I also realize that in our team, we don’t recruit women because we want to complete any gender quota, which is natural…it turns out that half of them are women,” she continued.