“Deeply Saddened”: Adar Poonawalla On Serum Institute Fire

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Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla on Thursday said that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the fire at the vaccine-maker’s facility in Pune which is at the heart of India’s fight against the coronavirus. Five people have died in the fire.

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.

Before the news of the deaths, he had 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.”

A massive fire broke out at a building that is under construction at Serum Institute but officials said it is unlikely to hit the production of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine developed by the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca and being made at the facility.

An official at the local fire station told news agency AFP that six or seven firetrucks had reached the site as thick clouds of grey smoke were seen billowing from the sprawling campus in Pune, spread over 100 acres.

Eight or nine buildings are under construction at the complex to enhance the manufacturing capability.

Serum Institute — founded in 1966 by Cyrus Poonawalla — is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, producing 1.5 billion doses a year even before the coronavirus pandemic.

It makes vaccines against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, which are exported to more than 170 countries.

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