On the eve of the 73rd Republic Day, the Union government conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan award upon the manufacturers of the two COVID-19 vaccines. Covishield-manufacturer Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Chairman and Managing Director Cyrus S Poonawalla, as well as Covaxin-maker Bharat Biotech’s Chairman Krishna Ella and co-founder Suchitra Ella have been announced the recipients of the Padma awards 2022 for their contribution in the field of Trade and Industry. The two vaccines played an important role in vaccinating more than 1.63 million residents of India against COVID-19.
Chairman and Managing Director of Indian biotech company Serum Institute of India (SII), Cyrus Poonawala will also be given the Padma Bhushan along with 16 other recipients. Incidentally, Cyrus was given the Padma Shri award in 2005. The Serum Institute of India (SII), which is part of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. Covishield, which is the Indian-manufactured version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, is also part of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX, which is a global initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Bharat Biotech is the manufacturer of Covaxin, an Indian-made COVID-19 drug. Dr Krishna Ella is the Chairman and Managing Director of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited. He worked as a research faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina. Under Ella’s leadership, Bharat Biotech is said to have grown to become a global leader in innovative vaccine development. Dr Ella's contributions in the fields of veterinary vaccines, food processing, and developing biotechnology infrastructure in the country have been lauded.
Suchitra Ella, who is also Dr Ella’s wife, is the Joint Managing Director and co-founder of Bharat Biotech, with extensive experience in marketing, customer operations, finance and business development. The 59-year-old woman entrepreneur shot to fame along with Krishna Ella following the manufacturing of Covaxin. Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella have been jointly conferred with the Padma Bhushan.
On being awarded the Padma Bhushan, Cyrus S Poonawalla said, "It is a great privilege for me to be amongst a prestigious list of illustrious people who have contributed to the growth of our country. I would like to express my gratitude to the government of India for this honour. Health is one of the strongest pillars of society, and I will continue to work towards making it equitable for all."