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Finally, we may have a Covid vaccine

The husband-and-wife team who spearheaded its development have been dubbed an "immigrant success story".

very promising vaccine against coronavirus has been developed. Results from its ‘Phase Three’ trials with 43,438 volunteers showed that 90 percent of the testers did not get Covid-19 and there seemed to be no major side effects. This has raised hopes that those who are most vulnerable to Covid could be vaccinated by the end of 2020, allowing life to return to something much closer to normal.

The vaccine was developed by Pfizer, a big US drug firm, and BioNTech, a German one. A lot of people have commented on the fact that BioNTech (which was responsible for most of the actual science-y bit of the vaccine) was founded by two people from immigrant backgrounds. Dr Özlem Türeci is the daughter of Turkish immigrants and her husband Professor Ugur Sahin moved to Germany from Turkey when he was four. According to The Telegraph, at the time “West Germany discouraged immigration… [migrants] were seen as temporary workers and they and their families had little prospect of German citizenship.” Sahin and Türeci are now amongst the hundred richest people in Germany.

Some people are therefore holding up the couple as an example of how less restrictive immigration policies can create huge benefits: for the migrating individuals, the countries they end up in, and even the world at large. When talented people can access places that have the right infrastructure to support their skills - and infrastructure here could mean anything from an excellent education system to a big national research and development budget to lots of companies looking to hire employees with those skills - it becomes more likely that they will become the most productive version of themselves they can be.

Of course, the flip side of this is that already-rich countries will suck up larger shares of global talent. That in turn could allow them to monopolise any gains or breakthroughs, which could end up keeping them rich and poorer countries poor. That is why some people would prefer the world’s focus to be less on frictionless immigration and more on investing in poorer countries to allow them to build up their own infrastructure.

Read our explainer on: is immigration good or bad?

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