Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew honored three scientists whose extraordinary efforts led to Covid-19 vaccines at an event in New York on Saturday.
Bartholomew, who earlier in the week met President Biden at the White House, presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to: Dr. Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer; Dr. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BioNTech; and Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, MD, Ph.D., Founding Scientist, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. They are being honored for their organizations’ efforts in developing Covid-19 vaccines with extraordinary efficiency and rapidity.
“They are truly “Worthy,” ΑΞΙΟΙ, of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. For they have labored to help save our planet from the scourge of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Through the therapies that they have pioneered, they have brought a concrete hope that we can once again engage life, secure in our bodily health,” Bartholomew said at the event which took place at New York Hilton Hotel.
“All of the honorees this evening have distinguished themselves in their respective field of pharmacology. This most ancient science of medicine reaches back across the millennia to the mythic figure of Asclepius. Our honorees do not promise us life everlasting, but their contributions are making it possible for us to live out our lives in this world with greater health,” he added.
In recognizing the contributions of Drs. Bourla, Sahin, and Yancopoulos to bringing an end to the global pandemic, National Commander Limberakis noted:
“As a physician myself, I have seen the horrors of Covid-19 up close, and so I am deeply aware of the great good that these men have accomplished by bringing these vaccines to the world quickly and safely. The service they have performed is truly transformative, and has given hope back to the world. We all owe them a profound debt of gratitude.”
Three scientists in the forefront to develop Covid-19 vaccines
Dr. Albert Bourla, a native of Thessaloniki, has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer since January 2019. He led his team of scientists and manufacturing colleagues, in partnership with BioNTech, to accomplish the unprecedented feat of developing and distributing the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine in under 300 days.
Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, is a physician, immunologist and leader in the development of novel approaches to fight cancer and infectious diseases. Sahin initiated and oversees “Project Lightspeed,” the historic development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, moving from lab and clinical testing to conditional approval within an unprecedented 11-month period.
George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., has built Regeneron alongside Len Schleifer as its President and Chief Scientific Officer for the past 30 years. He is the key driver of Regeneron’s unique science-driven culture and successful drug discovery and development engine, which includes the company’s COVID-19 program to address the ongoing pandemic with an investigational antibody cocktail.
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was established in 1986 by the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. The Award was named after one of the great Church leaders of the 20th Century, the late Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I.
The Award is presented every year at the Annual Banquet of the Order to a person(s) or an organization that has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people.