The last few months have been hard for industries and those who run them. Courtesy, coronavirus. But, Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder of Serum Institute of India, has managed to buck this trend, almost doubling his wealth in the past five months since COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March.
Two days before the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in India, his net worth stood at $7.47 billion on March 23. Since then his net worth has risen dramatically, thanks to SII's emergence as the world's leading vaccine maker, and partnerships with global pharma majors for COVD-19 vaccine. Currently, SII is the frontrunner among manufacturers to develop the world's first widely recognised vaccine.
In the 5 months after the lockdown, Poonawalla's net worth has risen 84.7 per cent to $13.8 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The lion's share of his wealth is his crown jewel, the Serum Institute of India, which is worth $12.8 billion. Along with it, the Poonawalla family also owns real estate worth $522 million and another $500 million in cash. He also owns stud farms, about 250 acres of land and properties and residences in Mumbai and Pune.
To put things in perspective, Poonawalla's total wealth can buy 7.16 million troy ounces of gold or 305 million barrels of crude oil. Before turning to vaccines, Cyrus Poonawalla had plans to make race cars. He had even built $120 prototype sports cars based on Jaguar D-Type. He, however, dropped the idea after realising the venture would need a huge investment in the beginning.
Cyrus Poonawalla formed Serum Institute back in 1966, raising $12,000 from selling horses and borrowing the rest from his father. Today, the company is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. It is also one of the three in India that are in the advanced staged of developing an inoculation against COVID-19.
The company, under the leadership of his son and SII Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla, has partnered with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca for manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, which is being developed by the University of Oxford.
Serum Institute has promised to provide 400 million doses to low-and middle-income countries by 2020, and 1 billion doses in total. The company started Phase 2 trials of the vaccine this week on Tuesday. For the year ended March 31, 2020, the vaccine maker reported net income of Rs 2,300 crore and revenue of Rs 5,900 crore.