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Massive fire in Serum Institute premises, vaccines safe

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A massive fire broke out at around 2.45 pm at a plant owned by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune’s Manjri area. Apart from 10 fire engines, a team of the National Disaster Response Force is at the site to douse the flames.

The unfortunate incident took place at an under-construction building at SII premises. Sources said that no loss of life has been reported from the incident so far and all those trapped have been rescued. The cause of the fire is yet to be identified.

Adar Poonawalla tweets

SII chief Adar Poonawalla thanked people for their concern. He said, “Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers. So far the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to the fire, despite a few floors being destroyed.”

Notably, SII is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It is a low-cost vaccine that has been already approved by the Indian drug regulator for “restricted emergency use”. The vaccine is a major hope for low-income countries that cannot afford the jabs developed by companies such as Pfizer and Moderna.

Vaccines not affected

Officials said the manufacturing unit of Covishield is safe and has not been affected by the fire. The under-construction building where the fire broke out is adjacent to the plant where Covishield is being produced. The exact nature of damage caused by the fire is not known yet.

Maharashtra govt responds

Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said the priority as of now is to avoid damage at the Serum Institute plant.

Pawar said, “The work of controlling the fire at Serum Institute is on at war footing. The city and district administration is doing their work. I am taking updates from the district collector. We have ordered a thorough inquiry into the incident.”

He added, “Concerns are being expressed about the incident from all over the country and world. I would like to make it clear that the vaccination plant (for COVID-19) is safe. For now, our priority is to control the fire and damages.”

 

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