Five Dead After Fire Breaks Out At World’s Largest Vaccine Manufacturer
At least five people have died after a fire broke out at the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in India.
Firefighters are currently tackling the blaze at the Serum Institute of India. The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are not yet known.
According to the institute, the fire broke out in a new part of the building that is currently under construction. The new facility was being built to accelerate the production of coronavirus vaccines.
Murlidhar Mohol, the mayor of Pune city, where the institute is located, said the bodies of five people were found in the rubble after the flames were extinguished.
Mohol said the victims were most likely construction workers, as per ITV News.
The institute’s chief executive, Adar Poonwalla, said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of the deaths. He added that the fire should not hinder the facility’s rate of vaccine production ‘due to multiple production buildings kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies’.
‘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,’ Poonwalla said in a tweet.
The institute had been contracted by AstraZeneca and Oxford University to manufacturer a billion doses of their coronavirus vaccine.
In an interview with Associated Press last year, Poonwalla said the new facility would help increase production capacity from 1.5 billion doses to 2.5 billion doses by the end of 2021.
The institute also plans to produce a third vaccine, which is currently being developed by US company Novavax Inc.
India, which has recorded the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, launched its vaccination programme last week.
The country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said the rollout aims to vaccinate more than 1.3 billion people.
‘We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,’ Modi said, adding that healthcare workers would be the first group to receive the vaccine.
‘They stayed away from their families to serve humanity. And hundreds of them never went home. They gave their life to save others. And that is why the first jabs are being given to healthcare workers – this is our way of paying respect to them,’ he said.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read