Five people died on Thursday after a fire broke out in an under-construction building inside one of the campuses of Serum Institute of India (SII). The fire engulfed 3 top floors of the 6 storeyed building in SII’s Manjari premises in Pune. As per the police, a total of 9 people were evacuated from the spot and 5 dead bodies of contract workers were recovered by the fire brigade personnel.
Sources suggest that this could be an act of sabotage as there’s no indication at all on how the fire erupted inside the building. Serum Institute of India is the biggest manufacturer of Covid-19 vaccine in the entire world. SII is working to provide cheap, effective and efficacious vaccine to the entire world.
The CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawala had said that the fire won’t affect the production of the vaccines. Before the bodies of the five deceased contract workers were recovered, Poonawala had said that in a tweet that he would like to reassure all governments and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that he had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies.
While addressing the media, Poonawala remarked that the investigation is on and the report is awaited before making a statement. He added that there has been no damage to Covishield or supplies as no actual vaccine was made at that facility. The extent of the damge is more than Rs. 1,000 crores. He continued by saying that the first response was to make sure that there were no deaths and kin of the deceased were intimated as soon as they became aware.
Poonawala later said to a news agency that he was in a state of shock when he got to know that five people had died. The people who were killed in the fire at SII were not permanent employees at SII, they were all contract workers and were doing air-conditioning and welding jobs in the building. Two of them were from Uttar Pradesh, two were locals and one was from Bihar.