At age 30, Adar Poonawalla became CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker.
But that wasn’t his first foray into the family business.
“I started at the grassroots level. I wanted to build exports, so I worked in all departments, especially marketing and sales, and exports,” explained the now 41-year-old CEO.
The company has come a long way since he took over in 2011.
Today, the company is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, known for the number of doses produced and sold worldwide. The company says it “supplies 170 countries with the world’s cheapest, WHO-approved vaccine.”
Adar steered the company during a global pandemic.Meanwhile, the Serum Institute Scale up Covid vaccine production Started manufacturing Covishield in India to meet global demand. AstraZeneca Domestic Oxford University.
According to India’s Ministry of Health, Covishield accounts for nearly 80% Total amount of vaccines administered in India so far.
“We have invested about $2 billion in the last two years,” Adar said, adding that the completed pandemic facility “doubled our capacity.”
“After only committing 1 billion doses, we produced 1.9 billion doses in 2021 alone, doubling the amount we committed.”
According to Adar, they can now produce four billion doses of various vaccines at their new facility.
Against the backdrop of a country inundated with imported life-saving vaccines, it was Addar’s father, Cyrus Poonawala, who founded the Indian Serum Institute in 1966. However, the drug’s high cost has made it practically unaffordable for most of India’s population.
Cyrus never envisioned himself in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, he was a horse breeder who inherited his family’s racehorse breeding farm.
But he soon learned that horse serum was a key ingredient in many vaccines, and that many of the retired horses from his farm were donated to the state-run Hufcaine Institute to manufacture vaccines. I knew.
At the same time, Cyrus Actual immunization coverage remained low in India, partly due to the high price of imported vaccines.
In 1966, at the age of 25, Elder Poonawala embarked on a journey to found the Serum Institute of India.
The company’s first product was a tetanus vaccine in 1967.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Adar remains committed to the company’s initial goal of producing an affordable vaccine.
“I could have charged more, but I didn’t,” he told CNBC Make It. “We didn’t want to go beyond the point. We just wanted to make a product that was accessible and affordable.”
By leveraging economies of scale and minimizing costs, his company is now the world’s largest vaccine producer. Company.
Through time and experience, Adar has been able to understand and anticipate global trends and demands, making it even more determined to ensure adequate supply. It was this forward-thinking plan that contributed to his Serum’s successful active engagement during the pandemic.
Thanks to his foresight, the decision was “really useful even during the Covid crisis” and the company has “extra capacity”.
Adar’s extensive travel also meant that he was able to meet people in different places and “understand where the world’s demands were going.”
This knowledge was the driving force that prompted him to build sufficient capacity to ensure that the company could produce in sufficient quantities to meet the growing global demand.
However, success did not come easily.
According to Adder, starting a company was a “huge hurdle” for his father in the ’70s who had to obtain permits and licenses.
Acquiring enough capital to start a business also proved difficult for Cyrus, who “had no track record and no brand name,” he explained.
Shortly after joining the company, Adar realized that the company was constantly missing out on “new opportunities” and decided to increase production.
This realization has made investing in capacity “very obvious and very easy,” Adar told CNBC Make It.
With the growing urgency of a Covid vaccine around the world as the pandemic spreads, Adar is determined to make a realistic commitment to meet the demand for the vaccine.
“Given a year or two, we can make billions of doses, but making it in three or four months is what the world really needed.
Like the rest of the world, the Serum Institute of India is moving away from over-reliance on the Covid-19 vaccine and shifting its focus to expanding its product portfolio.
As the company develops, Adar said it is looking to enter new markets.
“I am currently looking to further expand our vaccine portfolio in Europe and the US.”
Meanwhile, the CEO said he hopes the world will be better prepared for future pandemics with the measures currently in place.
“We know what we need to do,” he explained. “But I think it’s a question that leaders have to look at whether we’re doing it.”
Adal said he remains keen to provide affordable access to life-saving immunizations to other low-income countries on the African continent and in Asia.
“Frankly, I’m very relieved that the Covid pandemic is coming to an end, because I can go back to the pipeline of vaccines that I’ve been developing for the past few years.
“I just want to get back to it, and I’m looking forward to it.”
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