Cover Image: The Vaccine

The Vaccine

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

One of my favorite books that I read this year! Definitely check this book even though it's on the science-heavy side on how to BioNTech vaccine was created to give people some immunity to the COVID-19 virus. Even as someone who doesn't have a scientific background, I nevertheless enjoyed the book and will reference this book on helping people learn how the first vaccine was created.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. It is so much more than just a science story. While there is much science involved, the story also involves politics, finance, business and, most importantly, people. The scope of the book is narrow in that it really is only about the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and there is not much on the other vaccines. On the other hand, this allows the book to spend a lot of time on biography. I found the book hard to put down. It is well written, with a conversational tone. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance reader copy.
Was this review helpful?
This book lays out the events and decisions leading to the development and deployment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine following the global outbreak of the Novel SARS-Cov2 virus. Throughout the book, the reader gets glimpses into the lives and character of the key people involved in the decision-making, development, testing and marketing of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, starting with the makers of the vaccine. It provides insight into the economic, political and technological factors that drive Big pharma and smaller outfits that are trying to make it to the big leagues. The role played by foresight, risk-taking capacity of the makers of the vaccine and serendipity is touched on throughout. Aspiring and practicing microbiologists may find the book very useful as the inventors of the vaccine have also contributed to the contents. 

Although the authors have attempted to put the terms used in as simple words as possible, it does make heavy reading for a layperson like me as the subject matter of the book is technical. In spite of this, the book is able to convey the kind of wide financial, technical and regulatory collaboration and political manoeuvring coupled with effective strategizing required to bring such a product in a timely manner to the market in critical times. I had to read it in stages, but it was worth the effort, from beginning to end. 

Thanks to NetGalley for making a temporary copy of the book available for review.
Was this review helpful?
Reading “The Vaccine” was not only educational but also enjoyable. As someone who knows nothing about medicine & science, I was worried this book would be over my head. However, the authors did an amazing job at making the book sophisticated, yet easy to follow. I learned so much and appreciate the COVID vaccine & the scientists behind it so much more!
Was this review helpful?
My work is adjacent to healthcare, so I've heard the term "BioNTech" frequently for the past few months.
It was interesting to get the full story in this comprehensive walk through of the last two years.

The potential of mRNAs is incredible- BioNTech is a company to watch.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely fascinating story on modern scientists at the center of the storm of a pandemic. A couple not much unlike the Curie's from the last century. A couple that set out to change the world of medicine and has probably saved millions of lives already.

A fantastic read if you are into business biographies.
Was this review helpful?
I found this book just fascinating. Although it was packed full of facts and data, it read like a narrative most of the time. I was invested from the start learning about the development of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and ended up even more confident in this technology. There were times it was a bit dense but I think if this came out as audiobook, I would absorb more information. If you are at all interested in medical science, this is for you!
Was this review helpful?
This captivating account of an entrepreneurial husband-wife duo fighting against the odds, overcoming hurdles and setback, and revolutionizing modern medicine in the process is a great, inspirational read. We have all taken a front seat in the drama that unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, dive in behind the scenes with the life-saving biomedical researcher duo and their associates that set the scene for one of the first vaccines against this life-crippling scourge. A powerful read written for the layman, this read is a must-have for anyone wanting to gain insights into the paradigm shift in modern medical care pioneered by Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin.
Was this review helpful?
A very interesting, and absolutely, timely book.  I enjoyed learning more about the researchers and what they went through developing the vaccine.  I wanted to like this book more but, for myself, found it not as engaging as some of the other reviewers I read prior to requesting this title.

No doubt an important work, but (for me) the narrative didn't fully hold my interest over the course of the entire book.
Was this review helpful?
As gripping as any thriller, THE VACCINE reveals how married scientists, Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, developed the first COVID-19 vaccine and with Pfizer, produced three billion doses distributed globally in record time. Easy to read, hard to put down, and highly recommended for fans of medical non-fiction and riveting true stories. 

Thanks to the authors, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine.

 #TheVaccine #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
The Vaccine is an important non-fiction book, which is a timely read during the age of Co-Vid. It is important to be aware of the critical medical advances toward the prevention of this disease. The book covers key events which will go down in medical history. The book is highly recommended for both the general public and those from the medical and scientific fields.
Thank you to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the advance readers copy and opportunity to provide my unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
New Review
The Vaccine by Joe Miller; Özlem Türeci; Ugur Sahin
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: Feb. 1, 2022

"Science, it turned out, relies much more on serendipity than you might think." Epilogue of The Vaccine

I am about as far as one can get from a scientist. My degrees are in English and School Administration, and that world is where I've lived most of my life. But I absolutely respect science and am thankful for the advances it has brought to our lives, while always conscious of the ways in which history has both abused this learning and the scientists themselves, including currently.

I know basic biology, chemistry, science stuff, cellular development stuff. And this book is HEAVY on some of those facts. But I could not get enough of how those facts, those immutable facts of science, allow scientists to find a solution to disease while at the same time coping with all the financial, political, and geographical challenges in normal times, let alone when the entire world is shutting down because of a global pandemic. I LOVED this book. The writer did an excellent job of taking me through the science, and then each time providing a metaphor I could follow, most of them military-based, logical because we do declare war on disease.

An online summary of the book in Netgalley says this: "The Vaccine draws back the curtain on one of the most important medical breakthroughs of our age; it will reveal how Doctors Sahin and Türeci were able to develop twenty vaccine candidates within weeks, convince Big Pharma to support their ambitious project, navigate political interference from the Trump administration and the European Union, and provide more than three billion doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to countries around the world in record time."

If science intrigues you, but even more if you want to read a story about people who care so much about humankind that they pushed every boundary they could think to bring us a vaccine- (and succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams), this book is that story. I am in awe and beyond grateful.
Was this review helpful?
Aside from finding the scientific story fascinating, I really loved the human story that runs through this book. This is a time through which we all know that emotions have run high and that so much has been turned upside down, but to see the incredible progress and breakthroughs that these scientists made in light of all that was going on in the world is just truly amazing. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand not only the story of the creation of the covid vaccines (BioNTech/Pfizer's in particular, of course), but also what it takes to be a human working on the most complex and pressing challenges of our time under incredible amounts of pressure.
Was this review helpful?
I was really excited to see this come the shelves from Net Galley after reading Gottleib’s book last year. I think it’s interesting to have read both of these books, as this one doves much more into the scientific response to the pandemic, while Gottleib’s focuses more on agency response within the U.S. this also largely takes place in the German BioNTech facilities, which added another layer to the complexity. 

From the get go, I felt I was reading quickly, but didn’t seem to be making much progress which was discouraging, only to realize that it was because just over the final 20% is acknowledgements, appendices and footnotes. 

The thing I wasn’t expecting here though, was that this feels like a heroes tale of two scientists fighting the pandemic. I felt like it was heavy on feeling the humanity of the work they were doing, and really shone a light on the drug discovery process in lay terms. As someone intimately familiar with the R&D processes to bring a drug to market, it was a refreshing description of the steps companies normally have to take compared to what was done in the pandemic. 

I really appreciated the story of how a small biotech company’s science helped the world through a pandemic. This is definitely a worthwhile read.
Was this review helpful?

This was a fantastic and profoundly interesting glimpse into one coup;e's dynamic knowledge and their foreboding early predictions of knowing ahead of time that we were heading into a pandemic. As early as January of 2020, Ugur Sahin was home reading a scientific journal and he saw where there was a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Wuhan, China. Ugur and his wife Ozlem Tureci are doctors that are also research scientists that are both emigrated from Turkey where they have been living in Mainz, Germany running a cutting edge company named BioNTech. They have been using mRNA to treat cancerous tumors as immunologists which is cutting edge in their field. They owned a former company which was successful before developing BioNTech. Ugur, who while thinking about the virus outbreak was also trained in Mathematics. As Ugur did some quick calculations figuring in for Wuhan's size and the many travel routes in this city's metropolis he predicted that this could lead to a full scale, World wide International pandemic back in early January 2020. mRNA is messenger RNA which this couple used and they thought that they ought to try to develop a vaccine using mRNA to attack the bulbous spikes which are the part of what would later be called COVID19.

This Author, Joe Miller has written an accessible book detailing these two amazing Scientists journey into the race to develop a Covid19 vaccine to help save lives from what they predicted would be a global crises. The Author provides a historical record of the steps that this couple used as a strategy to develop a safe vaccine in record time for emergency use. He also includes the multiple other health scares that the world has faced like Ebola, SARS, MERS, Polio, Small Pox, the Swine Flu that the Obama administration handled. Ugur and Ozlem didn't work in infectious disease, but from their success with mRNA, they thought that it could also be used to attack the spikes that pierce the lungs like Velcro and they used their immune system knowledge to develop in record time. They named their operation "Project Lightspeed."

Developing a vaccine in months was no easy task. This book chronicles the process of every step of the way of the miraculous decisions that led to these two to harness a molecule that most of pharmacologists shunned. Starting with the recognizing that the fifty or so cases of this novel respiratory illness caused by Pathogens that broke the species barrier, known as zoonotic viruses, weren't uncommon, and the likelihood of a small cluster of infections leading to a public health crises was usually minimal except for this time. While Ugur read on that there was a submission from more than twenty Hong Kong based researchers offering an analysis of a "familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus," didn't concern Ugur. What did concern him was the second part of the article, "indicating person-to-person transmission." A quintet of a family checked into a teaching hospital with all of the symptoms we associate with COVID19, but what terrified Ugur was that one member who was a child was asymptomatic and as the six member of the family a seven year old tested positive for the new coronavirus. This suggested that, unlike the SARS-CoV outbreak of 2002, here was a pathogen that could travel undetected between perfectly healthy people. It was, in effect a silent assassin as this family denied having come in contact with the animals and they were all sick except the seven year old. Ugur was no infectious disease expert, but he lived through SARS-CoV outbreak and its successor that emerged in Saudi Arabia a decade later, known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and out of curiosity he had studied the data modeling that predicted their rapid spread. He knew by instinct that with this emergence of a new undetected pathogen that could be spread unwittingly by healthy people in one of the most connected and populous cities provided an almost perfect platform for a pandemic. This with some calculations in the best case scenario could mean 2 million deaths worldwide, far surpassing recent epidemics. He told his wife and they began with the help of others the race to develop a vaccine using mRNA.

This was absolutely fascinating to read about this multifaceted history in the making. They did join forces with Pfizer, but they did all of the work. There is so much information on this to encapsulate in a review. This was very engaging and I was able to understand the science thanks to the way this talented Author narrated this journey. There is so much that can go wrong developing a vaccine and it is all described in an easy to understand way. If you got the Pfizer vaccine you will learn the complex way that it was developed. Moderna used mRNA also but they were funded by the United States government. I really loved this and am so impressed how this Author was able to pack so much information in such a short book. I felt like I was a silent witness inside the narrative. I learned so much and am grateful that I read this. I was never bored and this doesn't read like a dense text book which I appreciated. I highly recommend giving this book consideration if you are interested in learning without being overwhelmed by not understanding the science.

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Thank you to Net Galley, Joe Miller and St. Martin's Press for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#TheVaccine #JoeMiller #StMartin'sPress #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
“The Vaccine” by Joe Miller, Ugur Sahin, and Ozlem Tureci is a non-fiction book telling the story about BioNTech, which developed the first vaccine against COVID-19.

I’ll be honest, reading a book about the COVID vaccine’s creation while waiting 15 minutes after a COVID-19 booster shot felt rather surreal. This book basically tells the story of a couple, Ugur Sahin and Ozlewm Tureci, and how working together in their biotech company they found a way - in a hurry too - to create a vaccine for COVID-19. Was it easy? No. Was their company an overnight success story? No and, in fact, the author gives the backstory of Sahin and Tureci finding funding and trying to keep their previous company afloat. Was it quick? Since I’ve worked with companies that had FDA oversight, yes, getting a vaccine approved in less than a year is a near miracle. Was it just the two people working on this? No, they had a company (albeit small) with dedicated workers, researches, backers (fortunately), and help from others in the scientific community to start (and continue helping) the ball rolling on the COVID-19 vaccine. Was it breaking new technology? Yes and no. Others had looked into mRNA vaccines before, but getting it to work consistently was an issue. 

Biotech is not easy - nor is going through regulations, testing, and manufacturing - and for all of those things, this book rather clearly spells out what BioNTech needed to do and how they went about accomplishing the seemingly impossible at times (Phase 3 testing - never easy, but they did it). If you want a book explaining more about how the US companies (such as Moderna) made decisions, this is not the book for you (that’s not a negative, it’s just not the scope of this book). This book is about a European-based company, dealing with German and EU regulations (which differ from those in the US), and trying to do the seemingly impossible in a short time. If you want more background on the COVID-19 virus, how BioNTech became the forefront company in developing a vaccine, and what went into making that happen, then read this book.

While I found the information about the company and science interesting, I wish that the book had included images and better organization. I’ve a tiny bit of knowledge about genetics, so, while I knew that a lot of the technical science was going to be above my head (and it was), I found myself really wishing for some drawings (even line ones) to explain what the author was describing (in this case, I’m pretty sure a picture would’ve saved a few hundred words). Visuals would have greatly helped “the layman” understand some of the technical bits of this book. I also would’ve liked an orderly timeline - sometimes the author talks about the present, then flips back a few years to the past, then returns to the present - then takes a zip down history lane - then returns to the present. Subheads with years (or even a different subtitle) would’ve helped.
Was this review helpful?
This important book shows us who the real heroes are in our world.  They are not ball players or movie stars, they are scientists.  This is must reading for the times we are now living in.
Was this review helpful?