A major fire broke out at a building inside Terminal Gate 1 of the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune, Maharashtra, this afternoon. Notably, the SII is the manufacturer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – Covishield.
Ten fire tenders were deployed to bring the flames at the SII’s Manjari premises under control. However, latest reports suggest that fire continues to rage on the fourth and fifth floors of SEZ3 building inside Terminal Gate 1 of the SII.
Covishield vaccine is made at the Manjari facility, but the blaze reportedly broke out at an under-construction plant at the SII, which means the fire may not impact the production of the coronavirus vaccine.
Three people have been rescued, said sources. The cause of the blaze is not yet clear.
Visuals showed thick clouds of smoke billowing out of one of the buildings in the SII complex at Gopalpatti. Serum Institute, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, has not issued any statement on the development as yet.
Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is one of the first COVID-19 vaccines in India to get restricted emergency-use approval. The Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd was founded by Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966.
Adar Poonawalla’s SII, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company, is spread over 100 ac in Pune.
India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Serum’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.
SII has so far manufactured 50 million doses of Covishield vaccine on at-risk funding. Overall, the vaccine giants aim to develop 3.2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines at its facilities in India. The company is ramping up capacity every week.
Last year, as a part of the Covid-19 vaccine inspection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Serum Institute site to review its production out ahead of the vaccination drive in the country.