YUSUF HAMIED says that right through the pandemic no matter where he has been living – London, Mumbai or Marbella – all he has done is “work, work, work”. He is not complaining, though – he actually likes working round the clock. And as someone with a First and a PhD in chemistry from Cambridge, he can chat to top professors and research scientists all over the world on equal terms. Plus he has a great ability to make friends.
His company, Cipla, one of the 50 biggest pharma companies in the world with a $2.5 billion (£1.86bn) turnover, doesn’t actually make vaccines. However, he is fully aware that Covid patients need prolonged treatment. “Cipla has been at the forefront of that,” he said.
He speculates “there might eventually be one vaccine for flu and Covid combined”.
Twenty years ago it was his intervention that saved the lives of millions of HIV patients in Africa. In response to a request from Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, he put up a Cipla factory in Kampala in 2000. This was approved by the World Health Organization, enabling it export its anti-AIDs drugs to other African countries. He was taken aback when he received a thank you letter from a grateful Ugandan government in September 2020, telling him the thoroughfare opposite the factory was now called the “Yusuf Hamied Road” in his honour.
Back in Bombay (now Mumbai), the square opposite the Cipla offices was named the Dr K A Hamied Chowk in the 1970s, after his late father, Khwaja Abdul Hamied, who founded Chemical, Industrial & Pharmaceutical Laboratories in 1935 after Mahatma Gandhi had said it was important for India to make its own medicines rather than depend on expensive imports from the west.
Following the example set by his legendary father, his