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If you come across the last names Fernández López, like this together, something that is statistically highly probable at any time of the day, they will surely not suggest anything to you.

They are so common, even when paired, that they could be yours, or the ones you read in the mailbox on the mezzanine when you go over the portal of your neighborhood community.

But in and around Vigo, and even more so in Porriño, the Fernández López family, far from suggesting something common, is

synonymous with prosperity

and employment.

It was in 1960 when José Fernández López founded Pescanova, today a food and fishing giant that decisively determines the wealth of the area, but before that José had founded with his brother Antonio, from Lugo after the end of the civil war , a pharmaceutical company they called Zeltia.

The official story of the company tells that that startup had some

reconciliation between the two sides after the end of the war

- the Fernández López sympathized with the nationals, and their partner in the Zeltia startup, the Barcelona chemist Fernando Calvet Prats, a former A student at Oxford, he had been a victim of Franco's regime, dispossessed for years of the chair he had won at the University of Salamanca.

Zeltia prospered and diversified in the following decades, becoming a modern specialized pharmaceutical group, generalizing a lot, in antibiotics for humans, vaccines for animals and products for the agricultural industry, and was left in the hands of Antonio Fernández López when his brother José started with Pescanova.

Over time, it is not necessary to explain what Pescanova is - it is enough to go to the frozen section of your favorite supermarket - while Zendal grew to be listed on the stock market and consolidated as one of the main pharmaceutical companies in Spain, although logically unknown to the bulk of the population.

However, the current pandemic has just provided the heirs of the Fernández López brothers with

an injection of topicality and relevance,

since it will be two Porriño companies that emerged from the original Zeltia matrix that are designated, for now, to begin producing antigens -es that is, the assets that create antibodies in the immune system- of two of the vaccines against covid-19 that are in a more advanced stage of development: Pharmamar, currently chaired by José María Fernández de Sousa (son of José Fernández), has Moderna's license for the EU, while this week Zendal, chaired by Pedro Fernández Puertas (son of Antonio Fernández and born, as the first company, in 1939), did the same with the Novavax vaccine, one of the whose investors is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Spain is in several projects for the realization of vaccines against Covid-19E.M.

Although Pharmamar and Zendal are different companies, they share part of the shareholding -Pedro Fernández Puertas owns 4% of Pharmamar and is vice president of the company, although the real control is held by the Kutxabank bank-, as well as a long history of splits and mergers that They always refer to the same origin and draw an unalterable panorama: in the end, it is the Fernández López who maintain the historical link with the lion's share of the pharmaceutical business in Galicia.

Pharmamar emerged from the parent company of Zeltia in 1986 to research cancer treatments from marine resources, and in 2015 it became the parent company, after absorbing Zeltia itself.

At the same time, Zendal emerged in 1993 when Zeltia sold its Cooper / Zeltia division -which worked on vaccines against viruses that develop in animals- and, after calling itself CZ Veterinary, added new companies to the group, which began to take over its name of the nurse Isabel Zendal, another illustrious Galician who

participated in the first vaccination campaign

against smallpox in the Philippines as part of the Balmis expedition of 1803. Zeltia as such still exists, but now within Zendal, after Pharmamar sold it in 2019, and with a different status within the group, which has preferred to maintain a firm division between pharmacological research for humans and animals.

However, in this family story with a happy ending, a code name is missing, which is Rosalía Mera.

The one who was the founder of Zara and the wife of Amancio Ortega opted for Pharmamar when the company took its first steps and entered

the uncertain territory of cancer research.

In fact, Rosalía Mera's investment was not profitable, and her environment tried several times to convince her to sell her part, before the losses were greater.

He did not do so, and neither has his daughter Sandra Ortega, who after Rosalía's death in 2013 has kept faith in Pharmamar, losing even 20 million euros in 2018. However, the vaccine production phase Covid-19

has come to revalue both companies,

and what one day was almost ruin, tomorrow may be glory if the stock arrives soon and its results in the population are optimal.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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