CALS alumnus, managing director of Bharat Biotech, given green light for human testing of Covid-19 vaccine

Dr. Krishna Ella (Ph.D. Plant Pathology, 1993), the current chairman and managing director of the Hyderabad, India based Bharat Biotech was given the green light to begin human testing of the Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covaxin’ last week.

The company is the first Indian firm to have received approval out of seven Indian companies involved in the indigenous production of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The first version of the vaccine was developed within 40 days, after which the pre-clinical trials began. Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of Covaxin in COVID-19 patients will begin in July. The vaccine candidate was developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.

Dr. Ella is most notably a humanitarian — supplying affordable hepatitis vaccines to millions of people around the globe.

After earning his PhD in Plant Pathology, Ella joined the Medical University of South Carolina-Charleston, where he made a shift from plant pathology to human and yeast molecular biology. While conducting research on a yeast molecular gene, Ella began to conceptualize a hepatitis vaccine. He raised the funds to launch Bharat Biotech International Ltd., a company that today has supplied 1.5 billion vaccine doses to more than 65 countries. Ella’s mission is to provide the 5.8 billion people of developing nations with this safe, affordable vaccine.

Ella was a 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Honoree.