According to the co-founder of BioNTech Dr Ugur Sahin, the COVID-19 vaccine he designed for Pfizer was designed in just few hours in a single day on January 25, 2020. No other vaccine in history has been created and manufactured so quickly. Previously, the fastest vaccine ever developed took more than four years.
BioNTech co-founder Dr Ugur Sahin designed the COVID-19 vaccine in just a few hours in mid-January, according to The Journal, a podcast from Gimlet and The Wall Street Journal.
A BioNTech spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that Sahin – who founded the company with his wife, Özlem Türeci – made a “rough design over one weekend.”
Even, Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine also took just two days to design.
The reason both vaccines were designed so quickly was because of the technology they rely on: messenger RNA, or mRNA.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had never approved an mRNA-based vaccine or treatment before. But now the agency has granted authorization to Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s mRNA based vaccines designed in a day for the first time.
Messenger RNA is genetic material that tells cells how to make proteins. These coronavirus vaccines work by injecting a small piece of coronavirus mRNA into the body. That RNA codes for the virus’ spike protein, which is what helps it attach to and invade cells. That’s also what antibodies target and neutralize.
Earlier, vaccines contained a dead or weakened version of a virus.
The drawbacks of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, however, is also that is has been produced in such a short span of time. There are also many lingering questions about its short trial period and side-effects.