Serum Institute founder Cyrus Poonawalla to receive Lokmanya Tilak Award
Businessman Cyrus Poonawalla, who is the founder-chairperson of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has been named as a recipient of the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak National Award for 2021, news agency PTI reported on Saturday quoting Deepak Tilak, who heads the Lokmanya Tilak Trust.
“He will be honoured for his work during the coronavirus pandemic, wherein he helped in saving many lives by manufacturing the Covishield vaccine. Under his leadership, crore of doses were made available to people in record time. Poonawalla has been at the forefront of making different vaccines at affordable prices,” Tilak announced. Tilak also noted that though the award ceremony takes place annually on August 1, the freedom fighter's death anniversary, this year it will take place on August 13 due to the pandemic situation. The award comprises cash prize of ₹one lakh as well as a memento for the recipient.
The award was first given in 1983. Its recipients include former prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh, former president Pranab Mukherjee and Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, among others.
Poonawalla, who was born in 1941, founded SII in 1966, according to his website. Today, it is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by the number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion). His son, Adar, is currently the chief executive officer (CEO) of the firm, and is among the faces which were prominently visible during the pandemic, as he gave regular updates on the development anti-Covid vaccines. Covishield is actually the local name given to the vaccine developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Inc.
SII, which is a part of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, will also manufacture US firm Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine in India.