New Delhi: Five people died after a fire broke out at the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Manjari facility in Pune Thursday. The incident is, however, unlikely to hit the production of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine developed by SII in partnership with the Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca.
All Covid-19 vaccines manufactured are safe and stored far away from the site where the fire broke out, an SII official said.
“All vaccines are safe and the manufacturing site is also unaffected. The area where Covishield is manufactured and stored is nowhere close to the affected site,” a top official at the company told ThePrint requesting anonymity.
“The fire has broken out in our new biotechnology park. The unit’s section where fire has broken out is still under construction. It is in Pune-based Manjari’s special economic zone (SEZ) area,” he said.
In a tweet, Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said the incident will not hit the production of Covishield.
“I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at Serum Institute,” he tweeted.
I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia. Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice & Fire Department
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 21, 2021
The Pune-based vaccine manufacturer is one of the two companies that received conditional approval for manufacturing and selling Covid-19 vaccines in India.
“More than 10 fire tenders have already reached the site. We are hoping things will come under-control soon,” the official added.
The company is expected to issue an official statement on the fire outbreak.
Plant was inaugurated by health minister last year
The Manjri plant was inaugurated by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in 2019. The company had at that time announced that it had invested Rs 3,200 crore and planned to invest Rs 800 crore, going forward.
The unit, when launched, was promoted to be built in compliance with the US and European vaccine manufacturing regulations. The objective was to maximise the production of vaccines such as HPV and Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis in addition to Thermostable Rotasiil along with monoclonal antibodies like Trastuzumab (Herceptin).