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ET Awards: Adar Poonawalla, doing India proud with a small jab, and a big gamble

Around this time last year, 39-year-old Adar Poonawalla was better known for his fast cars and lavish lifestyle, and Serum Institute of India, founded by father Cyrus Poonawalla, was hardly known outside the healthcare and biotech industry.

Within months of the Covid-19 outbreak, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world has become a household name in the country. As an Indian vaccine entrepreneur, Poonawalla made a risky bet when he invested $450 million (about Rs 3,300 crore) six months ago in building one of the largest vaccine facilities to manufacture the then under development AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine for Covid-19.

Vaccine development perils are well known and most companies that embark on the task usually take at least five years to come out with one. The pandemic, however, changed that and Poonawalla’s bet has given the world a much-needed shot of hope.

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