Indian drug mogul says Americans will pay too much for Covid vaccine – and wants to change that


When Gavi was first launched, Big Pharma was abandoning the vaccine business.

“It had become unprofitable because only the wealthy western markets were … willing to pay what they were worth,” said Dominic Hein, head of market training at Gavi.

Today, the partnership is helping the poorest countries pay for vaccinations that meet World Health Organization quality standards. The Serum Institute is a leading supplier, pumping four out of ten vaccines funded by Gavi. He was “the pioneer in manufacturing low-cost, high-quality vaccines,” said Hein.

The partnership with Gates has strengthened the company’s position in the healthcare world – and helped it reach new levels of profitability – although people sometimes scratch their heads when they hear the Serum Institute name. of India.

“We’ll have to change the name to describe exactly what we’re doing,” said Adar Poonawalla, who took over in 2011 as CEO of the company, which is still publicly traded. “Maybe in a year or two we will look at this.

Live a globetrotter life

For all of their work on behalf of the masses, the Poonawallas are unmistakably wealthy and love to show it off.

Cyrus Poonawalla, who remains president of the company at 79, is No. 165 in the Forbes billionaire ranking, with an estimated net worth of $ 11.5 billion. (A different ranking estimated that the pandemic had increased his net worth by a quarter, ranking him as the 86th richest man in the world.) His personal website presents photos of him playing with Gates and posing with his cars. sport and its limousines.

Adar, who along with his glamorous and Bollywood-related wife Natasha has become popular fodder for tabloids across the subcontinent, told GQ India that under normal circumstances he would be in Cannes, on a yacht this summer. Instead, it is near the company’s headquarters in Pune, where one of its offices is a refurbished A320 aircraft. Pune is the eighth most populous city in India and is in the midst of a severe coronavirus outbreak.

“In terms of public perception, we are best known for our lifestyle; now people understand the work that we do, ”he acknowledged on the glossy men’s paper, which featured it on the cover of his June issue as“ Vaccine Vanguard ”.

Indeed, the company estimates that 65% of the world’s children receive at least one vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute.

Some of its products have been designed specifically for the needs of poor countries. For example, its oral rotavirus vaccine is heat stable, so it does not need to be kept cold as it is distributed in countries without constant electricity.


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