Dr. Krishna Ella
Source: bharatbiotech.com

The entire world is in the race to create an accurate vaccine for Coronavirus, and now India is similarly running in this race. India has successfully made its first COVID19 Vaccine. Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based firm in a collaboration with India's Council of Medical Research and India's National Institute of Virology, has received approval from the drug control authorities to conduct human trials of the vaccine. They have named this vaccine ‘COVAXIN’. Krishna Ella is the current Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech International Ltd. And Bharat Biotech is the same firm that created the world's first vaccine for another lethal virus named Zika Virus, and they also created the world's cheapest Hepatitis vaccine.

Dr. Krishna Ella additionally works as a scientist at Bharat Biotech and he has played a huge role in developing COVAXIN, the new COVID 19 vaccine. Dr. Krishna Ella was born in a middle-class family of farmers from Thiruthani, Tamil Nadu. And he began his career in biotechnology through agriculture only. Krishna Ella explained his earlier plans in life in an interview with Rediff. He said that his original plan was to keep farming after studying agriculture, but because of financial problems he joined a chemicals and pharmaceutical firm named Bayer, as a part of their agricultural division. Meanwhile, Krishna Ella got a scholarship from the Rotary's Freedom from Hunger Fellowship and he went to study in the US. Krishna completed his Master's at the University of Hawaii and his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then he returned to India in 1995.

Initially, Krishna Ella did not have any intentions of coming back to India, but it was his mother who asked him to return and pursue whatever he wants. And then he decided to come back to India with a business plan to create a cheaper hepatitis vaccine as there was an extremely heavy demand for it in India. Krishna established a small laboratory in Hyderabad with some medical equipment he had and that was the beginning of Bharat Biotech. His company submitted a project proposal for Rs 12.5 crore with the hepatitis vaccine, the rate at 1 dollar while the others were priced at 34-40 dollars. The company didn't get the expected funding and they ultimately turned to IDBI bank and the bank funded the company with Rs. 2 crores. In 4 years, the then President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam launched the hepatitis vaccine in 1999. Bharat Biotech supplied 35 million doses for the ‘National Immunization Programme’ at Rs 10 per dose and has supplied a whopping amount of 350-400 million doses in a total of more than 65 nations.

Krishna Ella came up with the new idea of creating a biotech knowledge park in 1996. He requested the then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu to set up the knowledge-park. Soon Krishna received approval and land from Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation to build the biotech knowledge-park - ‘Genome Valley’. Bharat Biotech's new Hepatitis Vaccine Plant was initially set up at the park, following by the ICICI Knowledge-Park. Today, this park is the home to more than 100 knowledge-based industries with multinationals like Bayer Bioscience, Novartis India Limited, and the ITC.

Genome Valley is incredibly important as far as biotech parks are concerned in India. The park has catalyzed the idea of such knowledge-parks which are now also seen in Pune and Bengaluru. But the first, second, and third positions in knowledge-based industrial parks are given to the United States primarily because public-sectors are not given expected importance in the academic research done in India. And thus, Krishna Ella thinks that we need to focus more on public-sector issues. Dr. Krishna Ella has done numerous encouraging and notable things, and he has been awarded more than 100 National and International awards which include ‘Best Technology and Innovation Award’ from the Prime Minister of India in 2008, ‘University of Wisconsin Distinguished Alumni Award’ in 2011, and ‘Bio Spectrum Person of the Year’ in 2013.

Under the direction of Krishna Ella, Bharat Biotech has now become proficient to manufacture world's first preservative-free vaccine (Revac-B mcf Hepatitis B Vaccine), India's first cell-cultured swine-flu vaccine, the world's first vaccine for the Zika virus, and Hepatitis vaccinee with world's cheapest rate. Moreover, the company has supplied around 3 billion doses of multiple vaccines in the entire world. But Bharat Biotech encounters several situations where they are accused of low-quality solutions. Krishna Ella clarifies that “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”.

When the world is already upside down due to a pandemic, we should uphold some faith and hope for our researchers. While most of the other nations are still searching for an answer for COVID 19 pandemic, we should take some pride that Bharat Biotech has come out with an authorized COVID vaccine, and they will be starting with the clinical human trials. Let's hope the efforts of all the scientists like Krishna Ella will be effective in imposing a climax to this global pandemic.



(www.timesofindia.com / www.bharatbiotech.com / www.wikipedia.org)