Women of the Pandemic: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw reveals her experience, learnings from the crisis
On International Women's Day, HerStory is launching the Women of the Pandemic series to honour women who have inspired hope amidst the pandemic by sharing their experiences and learnings from this crisis in their own words. Here's Biocon MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw's account.
The last one year under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an eventful one for me both on the personal and professional front.
On the personal front, I was diagnosed with the coronavirus and subsequently recovered from it. Thankfully, my experience was mild and uneventful. Contracting COVID-19 helped me look at the disease from a scientific point of view. I closely and regularly monitored my temperature, cytokine levels, oxygen saturation levels and various other parameters.
A four decade-long career spent helming a biopharmaceutical company has led me to have a deep respect for the scientific process. My personal experience with COVID-19 strengthened my belief that science ultimately moves us toward a clearer understanding of the world and how to thrive in it.
After I recovered I widely shared my experience of tackling the coronavirus as I wanted people to understand that a common sense approach of early testing, proper medication, regular monitoring, enough rest and a positive mental attitude were necessary to win against the virus.
On the professional front, I galvanised the scientific teams atand Syngene to contribute to the global efforts to tackle COVID-19 through innovative science.
Biocon’s scientists responded to the need of the hour and repurposed our psoriasis biologic drug ALZUMAb™ (Itolizumab) to treat moderate to severe ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) patients hospitalized with COVID-19. ALZUMAb™ was part of the comprehensive portfolio of COVID-19 therapies we were able to quickly offer patients in India suffering mild to moderate coronavirus infections.
Our research services company Syngene stepped up its efforts to fight COVID-19 by redirecting its scientific and technical capabilities in COVID-19 related areas. It set up a COVID-19 testing laboratory at its Bengaluru campus using RT-PCR technology and started screening samples to support local authorities. Recognizing the need to improve first-generation assays and protocols, Syngene also developed the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test kits. Moreover, it started providing a range of services in the areas of diagnostics as well as therapeutic and vaccine R&D aimed at defeating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
At a time when humanity faced one of the biggest threats to its existence, the pandemic was a moment of awakening because it demonstrated that science could help us in defeating COVID-19. I believe the greatest lesson this pandemic has taught everyone, even the sceptics, is that scientific discovery is crucial to human flourishing.