Thank Allah I got vaccinated today! I took the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Al Dhafra Family Medicine Clinic, Abu Dhabi, UAE. I have been waiting for the vaccine to be available for sometime just because of its history.
The Vaccine was developed by BioNTech, founded by Uğur Şahin and his wife Özlem Türeci. The speed at which the vaccine was developed is staggering to hear, and I will try to summarize its timeline. An impressive achievement for humanity and the scientific community.
10th January 2020 - The SARS-CoV-2 genome was published.
25th January 2020 - BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin designs10 vaccine candidates himself. The company’s researchers would create 10 more different potential coronavirus vaccines for a total of 20, each slightly different in the event one design works better and more safely than the others.
1st March 2020 - Collaboration with Pfizer starts, officially announced by March 17. And also with Fosun Pharma from China.
12th April 2020 - 16 Vaccine candidates are eliminated. Only four remain.
23rd April 2020 - Phase 1 clinical trials began, Trial of the four candidates on a small number of human volunteers in Germany. Two of the vaccines are not well tolerated, and are eliminated.
27th July 2020 - Lead vaccine is chosen, and enters Phase 2 & 3 trials together with fast track designation from the FDA.
18th November 2020 - Phase 3 trials meets all primary efficacy endpoints; vaccine efficacy rate of 95%.
December 2020 - Great Britain becomes the first country to approve the vaccine. On 8th December, Margaret “Maggie” Keenan, 90 becomes the first person to receive the vaccine outside of a clinical trial. The FDA approve it by December 12 (co-incidentally my birthday, too much information!!!), delivery starts on December 14.
It took 333 days, around 11 months from the day the COVID-19 virus genome was published to the day the first dose was given. That’s an impressive speed, unheard of anywhere in the world. Just for comparison, Burj Khalifa took 1,325 days, the Beijing Olympic stadium took 5 years to be built, a typical commercial ship takes about 3 years to be built, even the average time a typical house is built is around 7 months.
The lessons here is clear, leadership and collaboration matters a lot. Pfizer for example spent 200 million per machine just to manufacture the vaccines and they bought seven of them. Can you imagine how many signature that would have required if it was your typical bloated company. The Pfizer leadership team deserves a lot of credit and they even refused money from Operation Warp Speed. In that same vein, BioNTech scientific team were smart to realize they needed to collaborate with Pfizer to save humanity, and unselfishly decided to share their revenue 50/50 when it would have been wise to maximize shareholder value, or so the corporate jargon goes. Corporate America needs to fully grasp and learn these lessons.