Atlantic Council Honors CEOs of Pfizer and BioNTech
Ursula von der Leyen (EU, ex-German defense minister): “This year has reminded us that we must stand up for democracy every day”
- Von der Leyen described the United States and the European Union as “natural partners” well-suited to jointly countering climate change and “rewriting modern rules for the global economy.” On the latter point, she cited the bloc’s new Global Gateway strategy—comparing it to US President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better World initiative as “a multiplier for high-standard investment in infrastructure” worldwide. “It will forge links,” she said, “not create dependencies.” She added: “When the European Union and the United States come together, we have the power to shape the world of tomorrow, from 6G to green finance.”
- Protecting democracy both at home and abroad should also be a priority for the transatlantic partnership, von der Leyen said, calling out authoritarian meddling in democratic elections, the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, and anti-democratic tendencies around the European Union. “This year has reminded us that we must stand up for democracy every day,” she said to applause from the crowd.
- The battle for those values increasingly plays out online. Von der Leyen noted the Council’s push for a transatlantic digital policy, which is now bearing fruit with the EU-US Trade and Technology Council. “We have a convergent vision on how digital platforms should work in open societies and open economies,” she said.
Albert Bourla (Pfizer): “To defeat the virus, we must be united”
- A veterinarian by training from Thessaloniki, Greece, Bourla described the response to the pandemic as “a great example of the power of transatlantic cooperation” and a lesson in common cause. “The virus knows no geographic borders,” he said. “It does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, financial condition, or political affiliation, which is a mistake that we greatly make, particularly in this country. So, to defeat it, we must be united.”
- And the two companies are not letting up. By the end of this year, Bourla said, Pfizer and BioNTech will plan to pump out three billion vaccine doses, with another four billion slated for 2022. That’s not all: Just last week, Pfizer announced that its new oral antiviral drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent among high-risk COVID-19 patients, which “has the potential to be a real game changer,” he said, “but should not be news that will feed vaccine hesitancy. Vaccines are very important.”
Özlem Türeci (BioNTech): “We all let science and data be our teachers”
- Türeci said she was puzzled at first to be receiving a leadership award rather than a science award, but she soon realized that “the key [virtues] for turning science into survival” are similar to those exhibited by leaders.
Ugur Sahin (BioNTech)
: “The desire to help others is hardwired and encoded in our genes”
- Adding to his wife’s list of must-haves for successful, humanity-oriented science, Sahin singled out social responsibility. “I know that the desire to help others is hardwired and encoded in our genes—or you could also say our mRNA,” he said. “These genes are not always active. They often need a trigger to be activated—an inspiration, an example, someone to take the first step.”
Source: The Atlantic Council
Editor’s comment: The Atlantic Council also honored the ex-German defense minister with a video compilation accompanied by lyrics of walking through downtown Moscow; “Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park”:
The Atlantic NATO Council appropriating a 1980s peace anthem? Are there truly “winds of change” blowing, or is someone extraordinarily tone deaf? What’s next? The KKK marching to black spirituals?