IN EARLY February 2022, at a gala gathering of Prince Charles’s favourite charity, the British Asian Trust, held at the British Museum, a number of celebrities posed for a memorable photograph with the heir to the throne and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
They included Adar Poonawalla and his wife, Natasha, alongside the chancellor Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata, and the home secretary Priti Patel.
Poonawalla tweeted that it had “always been a pleasure and privilege to support the incredible work being done” by the charity “to aid disadvantaged communities across south Asia” being done by Charles, and that he and Natasha were “in admiration of your leadership”.
But who exactly is 41-year-old Adar Poonawalla, a new entrant in this year’s Power List? Those who monitor fashion trends have observed that he is always snappily dressed. He and Natasha – the glamorous power couple were married in 2006 and have two children, Cyrus and Darius – have become a fixture in glossy magazines.
Actually, all that is a bit deceptive. When it comes to saving lives, Poonawalla is a serious player as CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
This has produced 1.5 billion doses of the Covid vaccine since the start of the pandemic, of which 150-200 million have gone to some 70 countries. More would have been sent abroad had there not been a ban on exports during the devastating second wave in India.
The Serum Institute also makes vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hib, BCG, r-hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella. Since 2020, it has been collaborating with Oxford University on a malaria vaccine that is currently undergoing stage III trials in Africa.
Adar Poonawalla is the son of Cyrus Poonawalla, 80, who set up the Serum Institute in 1966 “with a