BioNTech founder vaults into world rich list on 250% surge

Ugur Sahin reached the milestone after the UK this week approved the use of a Covid-19 vaccine that the German firm created with Pfizer

 Prof. Dr. med. Ugur Sahin ist Wissenschaftler und verfügt über mehr als 60 unabhängige Patente in zahlreichen Bereichen wie Life Science und Biotechnologie und Dr. Özlem Türeci ist Medizinerin und hat über 20 Jahre Erfahrung in der Krebsforschung. Ihr Schwerpunkt liegt auf der Erforschung neuer immuntherapeutischer Wirkstoffe und der Entwicklung von Antikörpern und impfstoffbasierten Behandlungskonzepten für solide Tumore, Interview 02.05.2018 *** Prof Dr med Ugur Sahin is a scientist with more than 60 independent patents in a variety of fields, including life science and biotechnology. Dr Özlem Türeci is a physician with over 20 years of cancer research experience. Her focus is on research into new immunotherapeutic agents and development of Antibodies and Vaccine-Based Treatment Concepts for Solid Tumors Interview 02 05 2018No Use Switzerland. No Use Germany. No Use Japan. No Use Austria. Reuters

The co-founder of BioNTech has joined the world’s 500 richest people after the UK this week approved the use of a Covid-19 vaccine that the German firm created with Pfizer.

BioNTech’s shares have jumped almost 10 per cent since Monday and are up more than 250 per cent for the year. Ugur Sahin is now the 493rd richest person with a net worth of $5.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Dr Sahin didn’t respond to a request for comment made through BioNTech’s press office.

The UK was the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, clearing the way for the deployment of a shot that Pfizer and BioNTech have said is 95 per cent effective in preventing illness.

BioNTech is still waiting on a decision from the US Food and Drug Administration and European Union regulators.

The German firm previously focused on fighting cancer, but Dr Sahin and his wife Ozlem Tureci - BioNTech’s chief medical officer - sharpened their focus on Covid-19 in January after reading a troubling study about the spread of the virus in a family that had visited Wuhan, China. Their results are a validation of the new type of drug that they have spent their careers chasing.

“It could open the pharmaceutical field for a new class of molecules,” Dr Sahin said last month.

Turkish-born scientist Mr Sahin is the sole shareholder of a German firm that controls an 18 per cent stake in BioNTech, which raised $150 million from its US initial public offering last year, filings show.

He has joined Germany’s Struengmann brothers among the world’s 500 richest. They own about half of BioNTech and backed the previous biotech venture that Dr Sahin set up with his wife, Ganymed Pharmaceuticals.

File -- In this Tuesday, Nov.10, 2020 file photo windows are illuminated at the headquarters of the German biotechnology company BioNTech in Mainz, Germany. Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world's first coronavirus shot that's backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.(AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

The race to produce a Covid-19 vaccine has also lifted a group of investors at BioNTech’s closest rival, Moderna.

Shares of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company have surged more than 650 per cent this year, making billionaires of some early investors, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Bob Langer and Harvard University professor Tim Springer, as well as chief executive Stephane Bancel, who is now worth $4.7bn.