Mahima Datla: Scale Matters

Mahima Datla is leading Biological E into the Covid-19 vaccine market, and way beyond

Mahima Datla, 44, Managing Director, Biological E -- Photograph by Gaurav Kadam Mahima Datla, 44, Managing Director, Biological E -- Photograph by Gaurav Kadam

For nearly two years, Mahima Datla and her team have been working relentlessly behind the screen to enter the Covid-19 vaccine market at the right time, with the right product. In her own words, the team crammed in 5-10 years of work into a single year. And the results are beginning to show.

Biological E, which has been manufacturing vaccines for over six decades, is weeks away from launching its Covid-19 vaccine Corbevax—developed in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and California-based biopharmaceutical firm Dynavax Technologies. Biological E targets to produce one billion Corbevax doses annually, including a mandate to supply 300 million doses to the Indian government. Meanwhile, Biological E's clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine for children are in the final phases.

India's first private sector biological products manufacturer, Biological E is aiming to make the most affordable vaccine at one of the highest scales globally.

"We decided early on that if we want to be meaningful, we don't have to be the first, but we need to be in many ways the largest to achieve economies of scale to produce the most affordable product. So from day one, we chose scaleable technologies to make the end cost affordable for the customer," says Datla.

Despite severe supply chain disruptions in the past two years, Datla says the company made great strides in Covid-19 vaccine development and, most importantly, did not miss any of its supplies for regular vaccines. And that's no mean feat. Biological E provides a number of vaccines including hepatitis B, DPT, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, measles and rubella to close to 150 countries. "Fifty per cent of our business comes from the Government of India and 50 per cent [from the] rest of the world. Despite the lockdown, we ensured every single customer of ours was serviced for all of the routine vaccines," she adds.