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By Indian Express
Tuesday 05 Jun 2018
Dr Cyrus S. Poonawalla

Pune bed Dr Cyrus Poonawalla has been conferred with an honorary degree ‘Doctor of Science-Doctor of Human Letters’- for his efforts towards providing life saving vaccines to underprivileged children.

The degree had previously been awarded to former US President Barack Obama, and Anthony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School conferred Poonawalla with the degree at a ceremony in Massachusetts on June 3.

Poonawalla is the chairman of the Poonawalla group, which includes Serum Institute of India- a biotech company that manufactures paediatric vaccines. Known to be the world’s cheapest vaccine producing company. Serum Institute of India and MassBiologics (Boston, USA), have collaborated to develop the first-ever “Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody” (Rabishield), which has several advantages over the available Equine and Human plasma derived product.

Launched recently, the first ever rabies human monoclonal antibody (rabishield) has been developed by Serum Institute and University of Masachusetts that works against Class 3 cases of dogbites.

In a recent case, where six persons were bitten by a rabied dog that died, the Serum institute, as a humanitarian gesture, offered to provide the medicine. According to Executive Director Dr Rajeev Dhere, as per WHO’s recommendation. Rabies Immunoglobulin should be administered in all people, with Category III exposure and to those with Caregory II exposure, who are immunodeficient. The currently available polyclonal antibodies roducts are derived from human (hRIG) and equine (eRIG) plasma.

These plasma derived products associated with side effects and are in short supply and only about 2% dog bite patients receive anti-rabies immunoglobulins. In order to full-fill unmet medical need, for a safe, affordable and effective alternative to hRIG and eRIG, Serum institute of India Pvt Ltd., in collaboration with MassBiologics, Boston, USA have successfully completed development of RABISHIELD (Recombinant Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody). Rabishield was launched in India in November 2017. This is a first of its kind Human Monoclonal Antibody (Recombinant, IND) for rabies prophylaxis in the world, Dr Dhere Said.

This degree recognizes Poonawalla’s immense contribution in providing life-saving Vaccines, at and affordable rice to the world, resulting in saving millions of lives.

Poonawalla has successfully combined sustainable business model with the philanthropy of delivering product at a reasonable price, steadily increasing the scope of vaccine coverage over the last 50 years, an official statement issued today said.

Poonawalla’s son Ada, who is the CEO at Serum, told The Indian Express that they were extremely proud of his contribution to humanity specially in saving children’s lives in the past four decades.