Biontech CEO Ugur Sahin defends himself against accusations of usury

Ugur Sahin founded Biontech together with his wife Özlem Türeci.

Ugur Sahin founded Biontech together with his wife Özlem Türeci.

Florian Gaertner / Photo library via Getty Images

Ugur Sahin, the founder of the vaccine company Biontech, is now defending himself against the accusation that he set too high a price for the corona vaccine. In reports in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and ARD this week, he was accused of initially asking a price of 54 euros for a vaccine dose with a purchase of 500 million doses. That would be 27 billion euros for enough vaccine for half of Europeans. This price is considered by the drug chief of the medical association for “dubious”, so the newspaper further.

In the “Bild” newspaper, Sahin now says that the offer is from mid-June 2020. In this early phase, Biontech was still in the middle of research, development and, above all, clinical tests and at this point in time it was difficult to calculate the costs due to a lack of experience can.

Sahin said to Bild: “It was our first price calculation with a large number of unknowns. In 2019 and 2020 we only produced small quantities of doses ourselves for our clinical studies. We had costs of 1.5 million euros for 2,000 cans. “

There were still many uncertainties back then

In addition, the company had no infrastructure for mass production at that time. “At the time, we simply didn’t know how to precisely scale production,” says Sahin. It was unclear at the time how high the production processes and costs would be.

The federal government said to Bild: “It was clear to everyone that the first figures were not the real offer, but a water level report.”
Biontech itself renewed the supposed “usurious offer” of 500 million cans a few weeks later. Sahin says to “Bild” “When we knew how to reduce costs and build up scaling, we created a new offer together with Pfizer in no time – less than three weeks later.”

Cheaper offer a few weeks later

Less than a month after the first official figures were available, there was a price model for industrialized countries, according to Sahin, the prices were between 15 and 30 euros, depending on the order quantity.
The allegations from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and the ARD are therefore not plausible for Sahin. “As early as July 22nd, we signed the USA contract based on the new parameters, from which the equivalent of 19.50 dollars per can was evident. All industrialized countries then received this price model, “he told the” Bild “.



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