The whole biotech industry has been working tirelessly to create a vaccine for the coronavirus infection for some time now. Usually, it takes 12-18 months to develop a new vaccine.

Oxford University is en route to developing the COVID-19 vaccine, with human trials initiated since last week. Serum Insitute of India (SII) has tied up with the university to manufacture the vaccine put in trial. It is owned by the Poonawalla Family.

The Poonawalla Family

The family runs the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing factory. Cyrus Poonawala founded the institute in 1966 with a capital of $12,000. Now, his net worth is 9.5 billion. He is also an avid horse rider and owns the largest stud farm in India.

The Poonawalla family also bought the Lincoln House in Bombay for Rs. 750 crore, which makes it India’s most expensive residential property deal.

Adar Poonawalla is Cyrus’ son and the current CEO of Serum Institute. He established the Poonawalla Finance, which is growing at a substantial rate. He’s married to Natasha Poonawalla, who herself is an entrepreneur. She’s also a fashion enthusiast and the chairperson of Villo Poonawalla Foundation.

The family also owns a fleet of luxury cars and numerous properties across the country. Despite their luxurious lifestyle, the Poonawalla family also ensures that they help people with their affordable vaccines. Some of their vaccines are priced as low as Rs. 5 per dose.

The Coronavirus Vaccine

SII is one of the seven institutions to partner with Oxford to produce these vaccines. The Pune based institute has also made other amends to obtain a vaccine – firstly, partnering with a U.S. based biotech firm and secondly, with their own BCG vaccine.

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The production will begin in a couple of weeks, and the vaccine will be available by September or October, only if the human trials are successful.

The manufacturing will take place in the Serum Institute’s facility, which isn’t specially made for COVID-19 vaccines but will do the job. Additionally, the Institute has also sanctioned Rs. 600 crore for a separate facility.

SII is planning to produce 4-5 million doses per month initially, and then increasing the production to 10 million/month. At this rate, they are looking at 30-40 million doses produced by September or October.  The vaccine will be priced at Rs. 1,000 per dose.

The price tag comes with the weight of all the other projects that were halted or delayed to accelerate the vaccine’s production.

The institute has taken a huge gamble to produce Oxford University’s vaccine which is still in the trial stage. However, if the trial is successful, SII can ensure the immediate availability of the vaccine. Hopefully, this gamble will pay off.

Image Credits: Google Images 

Sources: Economic Times, Business Today, NDTV

Find the Blogger: @ShreyashDhumal3

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