Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volumes – the Serum Institute of India (SII), was recently named as one among six people cited as ‘Asians Of The Year’, by Singapore’s leading daily, The Straits Times, for their work in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The Straits Times’ ‘Asians of the Year’ have led the way, as have scores of other individuals in their own fields.
The other five recipients of this prestigious recognition include Dr. Ryuichi Morishita (Japan); Professor Ooi Eng Eong (Singapore); Pharmaco Founder and Distributor – Seo Jung-jin (South Korea); Epidemiologist Chen Wei and Professor Zhang Yongzhen (China). According to The Straits Times, these six people have spent 2020 tirelessly seeking a way out of the greatest crisis of this era.
Collectively referred to as ‘the virus busters’, these six champions of humanity are heroes, having devoted themselves to the pressing cause of resolving the coronavirus pandemic, each in their own capacity, the daily said. The award citation stated, “Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has brought death and hardship to the world’s largest and most populous continent, is meeting its tamer in The Virus Busters… We salute your courage, care, commitment and creativity. In this peril-filled hour, you are a symbol of hope for Asia, indeed the world.”
In deciding to honour The Virus Busters, Straits Times editors had in mind those who have, in one way or another, enabled the complex, multi-stage process of preventing as many people around the world from getting the deadly disease in as little time as possible.
“I decided to go all out,” said 39-year-old Adar Poonawalla, who has pledged that SII’s COVID-19 vaccines will help supply lower-and middle-income countries that face significant disadvantages in the quest to obtain them. SII is helping poorer countries level up in access to vaccines.
“Each year, ST editors seek out a person, team or organisation that has not only made or shaped the news, but also helped contribute positively to Asia in the process,” said Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and Editor of Straits Times. “This year, we naturally looked to those involved in the fight against Covid-19, which has dominated the headlines. They are a disparate group whose collective efforts have pushed forward the search for vaccines, allowing these to be discovered and delivered with an urgency never attempted or seen before. Their commitment and actions have helped save lives and give hope to people all around Asia, and the world,” Warren Fernandez said.
Pune-based (SII) has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for making the COVID-19 vaccine, ‘Covidshield’, and is conducting trials in India. SII was founded by Adar Poonawalla’s father, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966. Adar Poonawalla joined SII in 2001 and became the CEO of Serum Institute with complete control of the day-to-day operations of the company in 2011.