Updated on 11 May 2012
Dr Weidong Yin, Chairman, President & CEO - Sinovac
In the 1980s, a lot of people in China suffered due to the outbreak of hepatitis A. There was no effective method to conduct accurate diagnosis, let alone the development of a preventive vaccine for the disease. This prompted Dr Weidong Yin, a young medical graduate from the Tangshan Medical School to take steps in order to reduce China's dependency on imported vaccines.
Dr Yin, who started his career as a doctor at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Tangshan City, Hebei Province, decided to focus on hepatitis research. He along with his team worked for over 20 years at the Tangshan Yian Biological Engineering, which led to the successful development of an inactivated hepatitis A vaccine (Healive) in 1999, the first-of-its-kind developed by scientists in China.
He was honored with the BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2011.
Sinovac was established in 2001 with a mission of supplying vaccines to eliminate human diseases. Dr Yin has been the chairman, president and CEO of Sinovac since 2003 and is also the general manager of the company's subsidiary, Sinovac Biotech (also known as Sinovac Beijing).
While recalling the early stage of Sinovac, Dr Yin says, "Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) development project (in 2002 when China was hit by SARS) has changed my life. This project was closely connected with stability of the country and society with our company's vaccine development project under severe pressure. Sinovac has been known worldwide ever since the SARS attack. Hence forth, we have enhanced our communication with the global public organizations, research institutions and enterprise in the world, and have established a good image among local government, customers and the public."
"In the early stage, no one knew our company, so it was very difficult for us to take bank loans to support the company's development; the vaccine production line was under construction and no product has been launched into the market at the beginning," says Dr Yin.
Dr Yin managed to get the funding from the Zhongguancun Science and Technology Guarantee Corporation when Sinovac was facing monetary constraints. He also got support from the National Development and Reform Commission during the production of hepatitis A vaccine, which was listed in the National high-tech industrialization demonstration projects. Dr Yin also got the firm listed on the American Stock Exchange in 2004. Sinovac's prime objective is to provide Chinese children with vaccines of international standard and similarly, providing Chinese vaccines to the children of other countries.
Sinovac Biotech produced the Influenza A H1N1 vaccine during swine flu epidemic and marketed it in just 87 days. In 2009, Sinovac was the first company to receive approval for its H1N1 influenza vaccine, PANFLU.1 and has received orders for the production of 12.49 million doses from the Chinese Central Government.
The share price of Sinovac on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) has more than tripled in 2009, from around $2. Utilizing the opportunity, Dr Yin stepped into the global market by getting the company listed on the NASDAQ Global Market in 2009 in a bid to raise more funds and become a leading vaccine producer.