Fire breaks out at India's Serum Institute complex; COVID vaccine production unaffected

Reuters

Posted at Jan 21 2021 07:51 PM

Smoke rises from fire at a site of Serum Institute of India in Pune, Maharashtra state, India January 21, 2021 in this still image obtained from a video. PUNE CITY NEWS/Handout via Reuters

NEW DELHI — A big fire broke out on Thursday inside the sprawling complex of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's biggest vaccine maker, but a source close to the firm said current production of coronavirus vaccines was unaffected.

Videos and pictures from Reuters partner ANI showed black smoke billowing out of a grey building in SII's massive headquarters complex spread over tens of acres in the western city of Pune.

"Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers," SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Twitter.

"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."

SII is producing around 50 million doses of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca a month at other facilities in the complex.

The fire department said at least five fire trucks had been sent to fight the blaze at the building, which the source described as an "under-construction vaccine plant".

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire.

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Many low- and middle-income countries are depending on SII delivering vaccines to fight the epidemic.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is already in use in India and has also been shipped to countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan.

The company is also getting ready to produce a vaccine being developed by the US company Novavax Inc.