Meet the Man behind India’s first Coronavirus vaccine ‘COVAXIN’

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Dr. Krishna Ella is the man behind the first coronavirus vaccine in India

COVAXIN, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV). The indigenous, inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) high containment facility. The vaccine received DCGI approval for Phase I & II Human Clinical Trials and the trials will commence across India from July 2020.

Dr. Krishna Ella was born to a middle-class family of farmers hailing from Thiruthani, Tamil Nadu. He first set out into the world of biotechnology through agriculture.

In an interview with Rediff, Krishna, who is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (Bharat Biotech) said, “My initial plan was to keep farming after studying agriculture, but due to economic pressure, I joined Bayer, a chemicals and pharmaceuticals company as part of their agricultural division. This was the time that I got a scholarship from the Rotary’s Freedom from Hunger Fellowship and went to study in the United States.”

Bharat Biotech Limited is a Pharmaceuticals company headquartered in Hyderabad, India engaged in manufacturing vaccines, bio-therapeutics and health care products. Bharat Biotech has its manufacturing facility situated at Genome Valley, Hyderabad, India. Currently, the company employs over 700 employees and has a presence worldwide. The company has been responsible for developing an eco-friendly recombinant and a naturally attenuated strain derived Rotavirus vaccine called ROTAVAC They were one of the first to develop vaccines for viral diseases like Chikungunya and Zika.

In April 2020, the company announced that they have partnered with US-based company FluGen and University of Wisconsin-Madison to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In May 2020, ICMR – National Institute of Virology approved and provided the virus strains for developing a fully indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. On June 29, the company got permission to conduct human trials of the developmental COVID-19 vaccine named Covaxin, from DCGI, Government of India after successful phase-I and II clinical trials.

Dr. Ella has been awarded more than 100 National and International awards which include Bio Spectrum Person of the Year in 2013, University of Wisconsin Distinguished Alumni Award (2011), Business Leader of the Year 2011, Best Technology, and Innovation Award from the Prime Minister of India in 2008.

“When the company makes vaccines affordable to the common man we often get accused of creating something of low quality but we make vaccines believe that technology should reach the common man and no citizen should be deprived of healthcare solutions. This is the same reason why my company has been able to produce several vaccines at an affordable rate,” he explains.

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