Inside the world’s largest Covid vaccine laboratory, where hopes lie for most of developing world

W

hen the coronavirus pandemic broke out last year and the world clamoured for a vaccine to bring life back to normal, one company in western India was fully confident of playing a key role – indeed, it had spent years preparing for this very moment.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), a family-run pharmaceutical giant that started out as a horse farm in the 1960s, is at the centre of the world’s crusade against Covid-19 thanks to its ability to produce over 1.6 billion vaccine doses per year. According to its owners — the billionaire Poonawalla family — their production capacity is unmatched anywhere in the world.

It is a testament to this that the Indian government’s vaccine rollout cannot keep up: even with the country exporting and gifting millions of doses to its neighbours and allies, SII is sitting on stockpiles of upwards of 55 million doses in cold storage.

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