The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield is one of the two Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use approval in India. The fire was caused after some insulation material caught fire during welding, the government said.
Pune's Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said five charred bodies were found after the blaze was brought under control. A few more trapped in the building were rescued. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding work caused the fire, he said. The Maharashtra government announced that an inquiry has been launched into the incident.
Company’s CEO Adar Poonawalla assured that the fire will not result in any loss of Covishield production. He said multiple production buildings had been kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies. Serum Institute of India Chairman & Managing Director Cyrus S Poonawalla said "Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at Serum Institute of India. Regrettably, there were losses of lives in the fire that broke out in our under installation facility situated at the Special Economic Zone at Manjri. We are deeply saddened and offer our condolences to the families of the departed. In this regard, we will be offering a compensation of INR 25 lakhs to each of the families, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms. We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone for their concerns and prayers in these distressing times."
PM Narendra Modi expresses his thoughts "Anguished by the loss of lives due to an unfortunate fire at the Serum Institute of India. In this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest."
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjri, Pune, to inspect & take stock of the situation tomorrow at noon.