It is a well-known and well-followed adage that only the ones who are willing to take risks will discover how far it is possible to go. It is an adage that, turns out, holds true for Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla. The CEO has emerged as a prominent figure in the race towards an effective coronavirus vaccine as SII aims for 1 billion doses by 2021.
Among the sceptics who urged him to rethink his decision to jump into the nascent research of coronavirus vaccine was his father and SII founder Cyrus Poonawalla. "I decided to go all out," said Adar Poonawalla to The Washington Post, adding that his father said, "Look, it's your money. If you want to blow it up, fine."
Poonawalla put in his own family's fortune of $250 million to ramp up manufacturing. Even before that, SII already was a global leader in vaccine manufacturing.
The CEO also spoke about what he thinks about vaccines that require ultra-cold storage. He said that it is "a joke" and will not work for developing nations.
Poonawalla also warned that it remains unclear if any will offer long-term protection. "Nobody wants a vaccine that is only going to protect you for a few months," he said. Poonawalla believes that the entire world population will not be vaccinated till 2024.
Non-profit vaccine alliance Gavi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a partnership to pay SII in advance for 200 million doses. The $600 million fund will also help SII ramp up manufacturing. "At least my risk is taken away so I can sleep at night," he told the news site.