The AstraZenka vaccine has made the researcher Sarah Gilbert, who led the Oxford team that created it, one of the most famous contemporary scientists in the United Kingdom. He turned the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company into a household name. But nearly all doses of this vaccine, directed at hundreds of millions of people in Britain and around the world, are being produced by a 40-year-old Indian billionaire.
Adar Bunawala, who has proclaimed himself the “Prince of Vaccines”, is the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, which is considered the largest producer of vaccines in the world, which, even before the coronavirus, manufactured more than 1.5 billion doses per year for different diseases; This includes polio, diphtheria, hepatitis C, mumps and rubella vaccinations.
The vaccines made Bunawala and his family extraordinarily wealthy. They are now the sixth richest family in India, with an estimated wealth of $ 15 billion, according to The Times of India.
Bunawala, who was educated at St. Edmund’s School in Canterbury and the University of Westminster, signed a deal to rent the Mayfair mansion for a record £ 50,000 a week.
The young billionaire, who is married with two children, is traveling by helicopter and private plane. He owns license plates for Picasso, Dalí, Rembrandt and Robins, and has a collection of 35 rare luxury cars, including several Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars, in addition to a Mercedes “S 350”.
However, Poonawala ordered three of his factories, which were making “some other very profitable vaccines,” to switch, immediately, to producing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for the coronavirus.
“Nobody wants a pandemic, and we produce 1.5 billion doses of vaccine,” he told the Guardian newspaper earlier this year from his office inside a modified Airbus A320 aircraft, which he described as “kind of resembling Air Force One.” every year.
We never imagined that the whole world depends on us so much, but no one else has the ability to expand. ”He added that the investment decision was easy because the company is a private company“ and is not accountable to investors, bankers and shareholders. ” Instead, Poonawala says, “It was just a quick five-minute conversation between me and my father.”
He admits that it was “a huge gamble.” People said that I was crazy or stupid to make such a big bet at the time. ”
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