Pune-based Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla earlier through a tweet reassured the government and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production.
Five people died after a major fire broke out on Thursday afternoon at the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) newly-constructed six-story SEZ-3 building in Pune, Maharashtra. SII is the producer of Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine Covishield in India and a major player in the global supplies of vaccines.
According to police and Fire Brigade officials, the fire broke out between 1:45 pm and 2:15 pm and was brought under control by 4:30 pm (local time). Around ten fire tenders, four additional water tanks, and other equipment were required to bring the fire under control. More than 70 fire personnel were part of the operation.
India’s Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol announced that five people had been engulfed by the fire and their bodies were discovered during the cooling operations. All the five deceased were carrying out welding and air-conditioning jobs at the recently completed building. None of them were employees of SII.
Before the discovery of the five bodies, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla in a tweet reassured the government and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that have been kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies.
After the discovery of the five deaths, Poonawalla said: “We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident.” He also expressed his condolences to the families of the departed.
The Indian newspaper The Indian Express reported that Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil stated that an investigation would be ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.