People of 2020: Adar Poonawalla 'The Problem Solver'
Adar Poonawalla. 39
CEO, Serum Institute of India
Once known primarily for his collection of studs and supercars, Adar Poonawalla emerged as the hero of Covid-19, besieged by calls from world leaders and hounded by business reporters. As the Covid-19 virus spread its dangerous net throughout the world, a vaccine emerged as the only answer. And no one was in a better position to rise to the challenge than a company founded in 1966 by Cyrus Poonawalla, based in Pune, and now headed by his only son, who took the plunge.
Signing partnerships with AstraZeneca for Covishield and Novavax for Covovax for the development and commercialisation of their Covid-19 vaccine candidates, the Serum Institute of India held up hope that not only would the vaccine be produced fast, at low cost, but also that it would be safe.
With AstraZeneca reporting in December that its Covid-19 vaccine could be around 90 percent effective without any serious side effects, his leap of faith was justified. The $13 billion family-run business has invested $300 million (in addition to funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in a new facility which hopes to produce a billion doses of the vaccine.