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Vaccine Prince exposes India`s best and worst

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 17:42, 3 May 2021  
Vaccine Prince exposes India`s best and worst

Adar Poonawalla

Adar Poonawalla should be a walking advertisement for India's pharmaceutical prowess. Instead the billionaire owner and chief executive of the Pune-based Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine maker, has become a symbol of India's fraught ties with its private sector.

Before Covid-19, Serum wasn't a household name even inside the country. Now the unlisted company is India's best hope to get out of its Covid-19 crisis.

New cases tallied 392,488 in the past 24 hours; in Goa state 40% of tests are returning positive. The manufacturer's monthly production of up to 70 million doses of Covishield, the local name for AstraZeneca's vaccine, accounts for 90% of nearly doses administered.

That makes complaints from the 40 year-old Mr Poonawalla, son of the company's founder, particularly distressing. In an interview with The Times newspaper, he claimed that tycoons and politicians are threatening him in order to secure jabs.

India had given Mr Poonawalla security protection days before the Times interview was published on Saturday, in which he said the pressure made him want to remain in London for an extended period. He's since indicated he will return within a few days.