The race is on: can Britain secure and distribute enough vaccine to the right people before it is hit with a third wave of Covid-19?
Opinion divides sharply. Scientists are cockahoop with their collective achievement. Not only has ten years of vaccine development been squeezed into 10 months but an entirely new class of mRNA vaccines has been developed, boosting the prospects not just of future vaccines but a wide range of therapeutics.
Others are more cautious. They worry about a series of potential hurdles and bear traps that could yet see lockdown extended to the summer and perhaps beyond. They say we should brace for a third wave of the virus after Christmas and warn that vaccine supply and distribution is likely to be a slower, more painful process than many anticipate.
– Meet the modest man who is saving the world from Covid with the Pfizer vaccine
Archimedes had his bathtub, Isaac Newton an apple tree. For Dr Ugur Sahin and his wife Dr Ozlem Türeci, it was a breakfast table conversation about a mysterious virus spreading from the Chinese city of Wuhan that sparked one of the greatest scientific advances of the ages – hailed in some quarters as the most significant since Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928.
This week, as Britain became the first country in the world to grant approval for the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has been invented by the couple’s firm, Dr Sahin was at home in their modest apartment in Mainz, Germany, where he has worked for much of the coronavirus pandemic.
Next to his desk are a couple of pot plants and in the neighbouring room the spinning bike where he grinds out a few miles when he needs to clear his head. The occasional car drones along the street several floors below. Nobody looking up would guess this is the home of the couple who might have just saved the world.