Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the world's largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, is among six people to be named as ‘Straits Times Asians of the Year” by Singapore’s leading newspaper for their work towards fighting COVID-19 pandemic.
Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India (SII) is mass manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine “Covidshield”, and is conducting trials in India. Poonawalla is hoping to file for an emergency authorisation within weeks.
Other Asians who have been named in the coveted list are Chinese researcher Zhang Yongzhen, who led the team that was first to map and publish online the first complete genome of Sars-CoV-2, the Straits Times reported.
China's Major-General Chen Wei, Japan's Dr Ryuichi Morishita and Singapore's Professor Ooi Eng Eong, are among those who are developing vaccines against the coronavirus infection, and South Korean businessman Seo Jung-jin’s company ‘Celltrion’ is on track to seek conditional approval for the country's first COVID-19 medicine.
The Straits Times referred to these Asians as "the virus busters".
“They are heroes of a kind, having devoted themselves to the pressing cause of resolving the coronavirus pandemic, each in their own capacity,” stated the Straits Times.
"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,” " - The award citation said
Adar Poonawalla is putting $250 million of his family's fortune into a bid to ramp up manufacturing capacity to 1 billion doses through 2021, reported IANS.
Poonawalla said the company has pledged to keep half of the vaccines it makes for use within India. It has already begun manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine, he said. About 20 million doses have been made, and he expects to have 10 times that amount ready in the next four months.
(With inputs from PTI and Straits Times)
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