New Delhi -In the huge complex of the Serum Institute of India, one of the largest vaccine production facilities in the world, five people were killed by the fire. The institute is currently producing millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
On Thursday afternoon, a fire broke out in a building still under construction in the southwestern city of Pune. It was brought under control on Thursday night, but at least two of the top floors of the five-story building were destroyed.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO and owner of the Serum Institute of India, said in a statement: “Today is a very sad day for the Serum Institute of India for all of us. . Regrettably, lives were lost in the fire.” He said that in addition to any mandatory expenditures, the victims’ families will be provided with “compensation” of approximately US$34,000 per person.
The Mayor of Pune, Murlidhar Mohol, confirmed that five people had died. Their bodies were found on the charred floor of the building.
Earlier in the day, Poonawalla said that the production of the coronavirus vaccine Covinshield produced in India will not be affected by the fire.
Police and fire officials said they would investigate the fire. The reason is not clear.
Last week, the Serum Institute began shipping hundreds of thousands of Covishield. It said that 100 million doses should be produced in March.
On Saturday, India launched what is known as the largest mass vaccination campaign in the world. The government plans to vaccinate 300 million people by July. In addition to the Covishield vaccine, India will also use the home vaccine Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech.
The Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, producing 1.5 billion doses of drugs each year to combat many diseases, including polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella. Its products are exported to more than 170 countries.
Several middle- and low-income countries/regions rely on the Serum Institute to provide coronavirus vaccine stocks worldwide,. The project aims to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide, and has received 200 million doses of vaccine orders from the serum factory.
Bangladesh, Nepal and some African and Central Asian countries expect to ship Covishield for the first time in the coming weeks.
India on Wednesday exported its first batch of vaccines made from Oxford to Bhutan and Maldives from serum.
The UK’s mass vaccination program also relies heavily on Oxford/AstraZeneca drugs, but this stock is being produced in the UK.