On January 21, 2021, a fire broke out at the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer at Serum Institute of India. At least five people were killed when the building that was under construction caught fire. The Institute manufactures the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine for coronavirus.
Global News reported Murlidhar Mohol – Mayor of Pune, a city in the state of Maharashtra state – as saying five bodies were found after the flames were extinguished by firefighters. According to him, the victims were construction workers. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
One of the victim’s brothers, Avinash Saroj, said: “We were doing the work for AC insulation on the fourth floor when we suddenly saw smoke rising. Within a few seconds, the smoke became so dense that we were unable to see anything. We ran towards the window and jumped out. I was badly hurt but I managed to save my life.”
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute, said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.
According to the company, the fire was restricted to a new facility which was being built to increase production of the COVID-19 vaccines to ensure it is better prepared for future pandemics.
Poonawalla, told The Indian Express that the fire had caused “lots of damage”. However, Serum Institute clarified that the blaze would not affect the production of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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