Top medical research prize for German vaccine developers BioNTech

The three main people behind German company BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine have won the country’s most prestigious medical research prize.

The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize will be awarded to BioNTech’s founding couple, Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin, and the biochemist Katalin Kariko, who joined the company in 2013.

The three laureates will receive the award “for their research and development of messenger RNA for preventive and therapeutic purposes,” the foundation board in Frankfurt announced on Tuesday.

BioNTech’s vaccine was the first to be approved for use across Europe. Furthermore, the roll-out of the vaccine was not delayed by concerns over very rare side effects, as happened with several other vaccines.

The laureates had established a technology “that is likely to introduce a paradigm shift in some areas of medicine,” the foundation said.

The “spectacularly fast” development of a highly effective vaccine against Covid-19 was praised by the jury as an “outstanding success.”

Many winners of the Paul Ehrlich prize in past decades have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

The honour has been awarded since 1952. The prize is traditionally presented on the birthday of Nobel Prize winner Paul Ehrlich, on March 14.

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