June 28, 2022

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"Project Lightspeed" Book Review - Spectrum of Science

“Project Lightspeed” Book Review – Spectrum of Science

However, the correct mRNA with the template for the correct antigen is not sufficient for an effective vaccine – it also must be “packaged” so that it does not degrade too quickly in the body. It is not only clear here that BioNTech requires the cooperation of several partners: mRNA from BioNTech from the Austrian company Polymun is packaged with a lipid mixture from the Canadian company Acuitas.

For clinical studies, but also for marketing and sales, BioNTech needed large pharmaceutical companies as partners in the United States and China. Collaboration with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer began in 2018, when the two companies decided to jointly develop an mRNA influenza vaccine. Negotiations with Pfizer, which were not always easy, are described in detail. The authors also describe production difficulties: for example, “only one in 50,000 steps in the production process must go wrong for the cans to be considered unusable.”

In the final chapter “The New Normal,” they discussed topics such as mutations that could lead to more dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 – which is now a reality with the delta variant – and potential booster vaccines, which are now also a reality.

Co-author Miller, a correspondent for the Financial Times in Frankfurt, spent “many hours with the two doctors” on the book and had “conversations with about 60 people at BioNTech and elsewhere.” Time and time again describes the personality of the two researchers. “Your philosophy, in science and in life, has always been to focus on good ideas, regardless of national origin.” So it comes as no surprise that the members of the Lightspeed team come from more than 60 countries, and more than half of them are women.

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