Turkish-German vaccine scientists leave Erdoğan on hold

Istanbul’s opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu congratulated BioNTech founders Prof. Uğur Şahin and Prof. Özlem Türeci for their work on the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass clinical trials.

“You have been the triumph of science and the morale of our country against a relentless virus that threatens the entire world”, İmamoğlu said. 

The couple also spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and to British media, but apparently did not give any interviews to Turkish media yet. They have said that they are receiving hundreds of interview requests daily.

“Özlem Türeçi and Uğur Şahin, who found the vaccine in Germany, held a video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Şahin/Türeci  have been interviewed by the British press three times.

Erdoğan put a lot of people together, but they didn't meet with Erdoğan. (Not a special attitude, they have no time)”

Almanya'da aşıyı bulan Özlem Türeci ve Uğur Şahin, Almanya Başbakanı Angela Merkel'le video konferansı yaptı.
Şahin/Türeci İngiliz basını ile üç kez röportaj yaptı.

Erdoğan çok kişiyi araya koydu ama Erdoğan ile görüşmediler. (Özel bir tavır değil, zamanları yoktur) pic.twitter.com/tNqQLcUhF8

— FEYZI ISBASARAN (@fyzisbsrn) December 17, 2020

Erdoğan reportedly sent a video message to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session Against Covid-19 in which he sent his congratulations to the couple.

However, it seems that Türeçi and Şahin have decided not to hold a call with the Turkish President, allegedly in Turkish media saying that "we are not his advertising medium". 

Columnist Yıldıray Oğur with the conservative, moderate newspaper Karar said "Why does it seem that our state is not as proud as Merkel of the two scientists of Turkish origin, whom the whole world has spoken to and declared people of the year?"

Only Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had congratulated the couple on social media, Oğur said. However, “Koca made several statements about why the Chinese vaccine Coronavac was preferred, not their vaccine. I wonder if there was not much interest from the very beginning in their great success, which made two Turkish scientists people of the year, so as not to have to get their vaccine? From the beginning, it was obvious that the Chinese vaccine, not the vaccine they developed, would be taken, and that's why public opinion was not directed in that direction."