Pfizer’s Albert Bourla received the Greek top honor by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.
The Thessaloniki-born scientist was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of the Savior for his efforts in developing a vaccine that has saved millions of lives in Greece and internationally.
Bourla “gave humanity the space to face the pandemic,” Sakellaropoulou said as she handed Bourla the top Greek honor.
Bourla “made the impossible, possible” the Greek president said
“His path is the chronicle of the victory of science in the field of health, for the benefit of the common good,” Sakellaropoulou added in her address.
“Hailing from a family of Holocaust survivors, he was able to realize his vision and apply scientific innovations that led to the discovery of the [Covid-19] vaccine, allowing the whole world to believe that the impossible was possible.”
Albert Bourla shows his practical interest in Greece, by creating, among other things, two research centers in his particular homeland, Thessaloniki.
“Most important” honor I have received
Bourla responded that this distinction was “the most important” he has ever received, as “it comes from the homeland and the Greek State.”
“I am very lucky to find myself in this position and be able to help,” he maintained.
Bourla also struck an optimistic note on the pandemic. “I estimate that we will soon move to a level where we will live normal lives. We will not see the virus disappear, but now we have ways to deal with it – we have vaccines, we have treatment,” he said.
“The key is to follow the instructions of the experts and to be vaccinated,” he noted.
He shared the frustrations of many people who are required to get the vaccine every few months and added that Pfizer’s goal is “to have one dose of the vaccine once per year.” Yet, “technically it is not easy,” he says, “but we have reasons to believe that we are on the right track, even for this year.”
Bourla launches his book on the race to develop the vaccine
Bourla launched the Greek edition of his book describing his company’s race to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine in Thessaloniki on Friday.
The book, titled “Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible,” provides an exclusive, first-hand, behind-the-scenes account of how the pharmaceutical giant raced to create the vaccine.
The book recounts the intensive nine months of 2020 when the scientists at Pfizer, under the visionary leadership of Bourla, made “the impossible possible” by diligently creating, testing, and manufacturing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine that would have previously taken years to develop.
Bourla, who was named CEO of the year 2021 by CNN Business, chronicles how the brilliant, dedicated minds at Pfizer, under the enormous strains of the global pandemic, overcame a series of crises that were compounded by social and political unrest. He reveals the doubts, decisions, obstacles, and failures they encountered.