India has its eyes and hopes pinned on Adar Poonawalla⁠⁠— the world’s biggest vaccine maker who will be speaking at the Global Trends Festival 2020

Business Insider Global Trends Festival
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If developing a vaccine for COVID-19 virus is the most important thing, the 39-year old Adar Poonawalla is the most important man in India right now. Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker owned by Poonawalla, has marched the furthest in the race to stall the pandemic.

What makes it more ambitious is his promise to manufacture 400 million doses a month once the vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford, in partnership with British drugmaker Astrazeneca, comes through.

Poonawalla’s Serum Institute has the mandate to make the vaccine for Indian COVID-19 patients and a proven track record in producing high volumes and making doses affordable. As healthcare takes the spotlight in the post-pandemic world, Poonawalla will be a showstopper at Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival scheduled between October 19 and 23 this year.

Adar Poonawalla’s fight from polio to COVID-19

Twitter @adarpoonawalla

Making his company enter new businesses is what Adar has been doing as its CEO ever since he joined the family business over a decade back. The 39-year-old heir to a $12.1 billion fortune of his father Cyrus Poonawalla was instrumental in convincing his father to enter the oral polio vaccine. Before that, they have been heavily into making rabies and measles vaccines which they export mostly to international organizations like WHO. But his success with it, has made him take bolder decisions in the future.


Ironically, until a few years ago, the company had stayed away from the flu vaccine business even after swine flu and bird flu outbreaks. But that changed after a call from the Bill Gates Foundation. Since 2015, the company had been working on various vaccines that are at clinical trial stages.

Now, of course, there is no red tape barring Covid-19 vaccines as the world races against time to defeat the virus before it destroys lives, livelihoods and economies.

Why is Serum not listed on the stock exchanges?


Adar says that his bet on a Covid-19 vaccine is a ‘personal risk’ even though the Oxford vaccine is widely considered one of the frontrunners. He believes that he could take the risk only because he isn’t a listed company. “If we were a listed company, I would have to be accountable to shareholders, investors, and bankers,” he told Forbes magazine.

In the past, the privately-owned company has had many investors in the past who were interested in buying into a chunk of the booming business. Though they had come close to making a few deals, they resisted the temptation to bring in people whom they have to answer to.

The COVID vaccine has the ability to push the company’s fortunes to the zenith. As of now, the 54-year old company has delivered over 1.5 billion doses of vaccines. Considering the staggering spread of the current pandemic, this vaccine itself might top that number.



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