Yesterday, 9 September 2021, the 13th TWINCORE Symposium took place. This year, too, the event was held online due to corona. Nevertheless, the webinar was a great success and attracted even more viewers than last year.
At the opening of the event, TWINCORE Director Ulrich Kalinke looked back on last year's symposium and the course of the COVID19 pandemic. "At our last symposium, we looked at basic research on SARS-CoV-2," Kalinke said. "At that time, it was still unclear if and when efforts to develop a vaccine would be successful. But this year we are dedicating our symposium entirely to COVID-19 vaccination and vaccine responses. That is remarkable".
Around 200 participants then listened to the keynote speech by Özlem Türeci, co-founder and Medical Director of Biontech SE. In keeping with the theme of the symposium, she gave an overview of mRNA vaccines in her one-hour talk and outlined the development of the Coronavakzin Comirnaty. This was realised virtually at the speed of light in the research and development project "Operation Lightspeed". Less than 12 months passed from the publication of the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 to the approval of the preparation at the end of 2020. This was only possible because Biontech had already worked for years on mRNA vaccines against other diseases and the technology could be flexibly adapted to the new requirements.
Later in the afternoon, Georg Behrens from the Clinical Immunology Department of the Hannover Medical School (MHH), presented current research results on immune responses to COVID-19 infection or after vaccination. Britta Eiz-Vesper from the Institute of Transfusion Medicine at the MHH addressed the question of long-term immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in her lecture. Bimba Franziska Hoyer from the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel shed light on the special aspects of COVID-19 immunity that need to be considered in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism. Florian Klein from the University Hospital in Cologne concluded with his presentation on the role of antibodies in the neutralisation of SARS-CoV-2.
Until the end, the number of participants in the webinar remained above the level of the previous year. The numerous questions from the auditorium showed that the digital format is well received. Nevertheless, the 14th TWINCORE Symposium in 2022 is to be held again, if possible, as a face-to-face event in Hannover with a subsequent garden party.