- CompanySerum Institute of India
Few people on the planet are more in demand right now than Poonawalla, the CEO of his family-owned company, which just happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. Founded more than a half-century ago by Poonawalla's father, the Serum Institute of India (SII), has long played a vital role in global public health; in a normal year, most of the 1.5 billion doses of vaccines the company produces go to immunize children in low- and middle-income countries through programs administered by organizations like Unicef and GAVI. This year, of course, has been far from normal. With the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 in full swing, SII, with its enormous manufacturing capacity, has been an obvious place for pharma companies to turn. SII inked deals with both AstraZeneca and Novavax, committing to manufacture one billion doses of each vaccine, priced at $3 a shot, for low- and middle-income countries. (The Gates Foundation and GAVI are backing the efforts.) SII, which has expanded its geographical reach in recent years by acquiring production facilities in Czechoslovakia—recently sold to Novavax—and The Netherlands, is also working to develop a couple COVID-19 vaccines itself.