Posted on 17 April, 2021
“India needs to nurture and retain its human talent, attract global capital, and integrate with global supply chains. Improvement in education and urbanization will help India ensure that its own best minds stay home. India should also welcome the entrepreneurs and scientists from overseas to live and work in the country,” writes Mukul Gulati, Managing Partner, Zephyr Peacock.
Below is an excerpt from the post that first appeared on The Economic Times on 17 April 2021:
The rapid development of Covid vaccines is a miracle of modern science and a triumph of human ingenuity. While typical vaccine development cycles last for four or more years, the global pharma industry has developed several safe and effective vaccines in less than a year.
Scott Lincicome of the Cato Institute has chronicled the development of the vaccines made by BioNtech-Pfizer and Moderna. Lincicome asserts that neither of these vaccines would be possible without our globalized economy that matches the best global talent with capital and resources.
Both the vaccines are based on the specialized messenger RNA (“mRNA”) technology used by BioNtech-Pfizer and Moderna. Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian immigrant in the United States developed this technology. Kariko is now a senior scientist at BioNtech, a company founded by the children of Turkish immigrants in Germany. During the early days of its Covid vaccine development process, BioNtech’s management realized that their company needed financial muscle and manufacturing prowess. BioNtech partnered with the US pharma giant Pfizer, which is led by Albert Boula, an immigrant from Morocco. Boston-based Moderna’s co-founders are from Lebanon and Canada, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer are from France and Israel.
Pfizer is an NYSE listed company with access to low-cost capital from the US equity and debt markets. About $2 billion of that capital was used to see the vaccine through the trial and manufacturing process. Moderna, despite a modest record of financial performance, raised billions of dollars from venture capital investors and public market investor based on the potential of its technology. The capital secured by Moderna, along with financial support from the US National Institute of Health, helped the company develop, test and manufacture the vaccine at unprecedented speed. The private and public capital markets in the United States do a great job at pooling domestic and global savings that support risk taking and innovation.
Pfizer uses manufacturing facilities based in Belgium, Germany and the US. Moderna manufactures its vaccines in Spain, Switzerland and the US. Covid is a global problem that needed a global solution. Global human talent combined with global capital markets and global manufacturing expertise are helping solve the biggest global health crisis over the last 100 years.
Unfortunately, the arrival of Covid-19 has accelerated the long running political trends against globalization, especially in the western democracies. In the emerging world, including India, we seem to have forgotten that since the fall of the Berlin wall, globalization has helped improve millions of lives across the globe, particularly in China and India.
Zephyr Management is a global emerging markets investment manager, specializing in the creation and management of highly focused private equity funds
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