After a major fire broke out today at the vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India's Pune facility in a building that is under renovation, five people were found dead. The production of Covishield, a coronavirus vaccine developed by SII in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is unlikely to be affected.
"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. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed," Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted.
Visuals showed thick smoke rising from the building. The smoke made it difficult for firemen trying to bring out the trapped people.
It took around three hours for firemen to bring the blaze under control. The fire is believed to have started because of an electrical fault.
In Pune, the Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine maker in the world, is spread over 100 acres. A few minutes' drive from the facility where the Covid vaccines are manufactured is Manjari, the complex where the fire broke out. It is thought to form part of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).