Sinovac's Boss Longs for Vacation in Bali

Arfi Bambani
Sinovac Biotech Ltd CEO Yin Weidong  in Beijing
Sinovac Biotech Ltd CEO Yin Weidong in Beijing - Sinovac Biotech Ltd's name has soared globally in line with the high demand from the world for COVID-19 vaccines in the last two years. It is also popular in Indonesia because the majority of the national COVID-19 vaccination program uses CoronaVac, which is produced by the company headquartered in Haidian District, Beijing.

While for For Sinovac, Indonesia is its most important partner because this archipelagic nation of around 260 million people has become the first export destination for CoronaVac. President Joko Widodo started the vaccination program with an injection of CoronaVac in his arm, making the Indonesian people more confident to use the vaccine made by Sinovac.

In Indonesia, Sinovac received a halal certificate. Although several other Islamic countries have never asked for it, the halal certificate issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has added to the confidence of several other countries whose majority of the population is Muslim.

Then in Indonesia too, the vaccine trial developed by Sinovac at the end of 2019 showed the highest efficacy compared to other countries. Of the 128,290 health workers in Indonesia who volunteer for the Sinovac vaccine trial, 94 percent showed immunity from COVID-19 infection. The efficacy was highest compared to similar trials conducted by Sinovac in Chile (66 percent), Brazil (84 percent), and Turkey (84 percent), as reported by The Lancet.

But behind Sinovac's worldwide popularity, not many people know about the figure of Yin Weidong. The 58-year-old man who started his career as a doctor in Tangshan City, Hebei Province, is the founder and CEO of Sinovac.

He is not as popular as Prof. Zhong Nanshan, China's leading health expert in the respiratory matter, who laid the foundations for the mitigation, prevention, and control of COVID-19 which became known as the anti-pandemic health protocol as it is today. Yin's photos are not often found in public places in China like Prof Zhong or even founder of Alibaba Jack Ma whose words are quoted everywhere. Yin's appearance also looks normal.

Even in his corporate establishment, he doesn't appear to be self-effacing either. Regarding his position as founder, President Director, and CEO of Sinovac, Yin received total compensation of 105,632 US dollars. No other position in the executive ranks of Sinovac Biotech is paid more than Yin's compensation.

Amid his busy life leading a world-class vaccine company, the researcher and virologist who earned an Executive Master of Business Administration from the National University of Singapore continues to pursue his hobby of writing Mandarin calligraphy. Some of his handmade calligraphy works were posted around his old office in Haidian District and of course his new office in Daxing District.

"This is one of my creations," Yin said, pointing to the calligraphy posted on the wall of a VIP room at Sinovac's office in Daxing District, Beijing, Tuesday, January 18, 2022, when visited by Antara news agency reporter.

In that room, Yin held a lunch with the Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun, his wife, and other officials from the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing.

Bali's Dream

Since its founding in 1993, Sinovac has developed several vaccines, including the SARS vaccine which was developed using the same inactivated method as CoronaVac. To the Ambassador, he reported that he had delivered 280 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac during the 2020-2021 period.

It was the brief preamble before a visit to the production room which was followed by lunch in the VIP room of his new office complex in Daxing which is capable of producing 4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine per year.

The VIP room ambiance was fluid, more conversational, and accompanied by laughter. Especially when Yin and the Ambassador shared their experiences while undergoing quarantine together in Yunnan after the visit of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno LP Marsudi, and Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir at the end of 2020. The ministers met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials.

China has implemented mandatory quarantine rules for anyone arriving from abroad. Foreign officials who meet Chinese officials are exempt from this obligation. After the meeting, foreign officials were allowed to leave China immediately. However, the parties in China involved in the meeting must be quarantined for 14 days before returning to Beijing or carrying out other daily activities. Well, Ambassador Djauhari and Yin were among those who became "quarantine hostages" from the ministers' visit.

On the sidelines of the lunch, Yin expressed his commitment to helping improve the wellness of Indonesians. It is his ideals for the world.

"Our main priority in developing this COVID-19 vaccine is not money, (but) how to make the world's people live healthily," he said.

Yin's thinking is in line with the commitment of the Chinese government leadership to make the COVID-19 vaccine a public commodity that is freed from the obligation to pay patents for the development or invention of new engineering technology. Similar to the expectations of the leaders in his country, Yin also wants the vaccine he developed to be easily accessible to the wider community in various parts of the world at a very affordable price.

"I want people all over the world to be healthy. That way, I can retire. I can stop developing vaccines," he said as if expressing pent-up feelings.

Ambassador Djauhari and everyone in the VIP room looked stunned at the words of the number 1 person at Sinovac. Helen Yang, GM of Sinovac, was silent for a moment after hearing Yin's words.

"If I have stopped developing vaccines, please accept me as a friend," said Yin, who longs to take a vacation in Bali while enjoying food on the beach.

Tag # vaccine # pandemic # covid-19 # indonesia covid # sinovac # china

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