The company is involved in producing Covid-19 vaccine Covishield – developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca – which has been given emergency use authorisation in India recently and is being used for inoculation in the country’s mega vaccination drive.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI the fire broke out at 2:45 pm on the fourth and fifth floor of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises.
“As per the primary information, three people have been evacuated,” she said, according to PTI.
10 fire tenders have reached the site of the mishap. One team of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) moved to the site as well. Firefighting operations are underway.
The Manjari facility, where the fire broke out, is where Covishield vaccine is made, reported PTI. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, the official said.
However, this mishap would not affect the production of the coronavirus vaccine as the fire broke out in a facility away from the place where the anti-coronavirus vaccines are made, reported PTI citing a close source.
The site where the fire broke out, is an under-construction building at SII. The vaccine and vaccine manufacturing plant are safe, quoted ANI further.
Visuals all over the social media show huge plumes of smoke coming out of the buildings.
Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla took to Twitter to assure that no lives were lost or no injuries reported after the mishap that took place at Manjari site in the afternoon.
“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,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is in touch with Pune Municipal Commissioner and is taking complete on-ground updates on the incident at SII. He has directed state machinery to coordinate & ensure that situation is under control, said CM office.
Poonawalla’s Serum Institute, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company is spread over 100 acres in Pune.
India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Serum’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.
Last year, as a part of the Covid-19 vaccine inspection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Serum Institute site to review its production out ahead of the vaccination drive in the country.
Several other countries are relying on the Serum Institute to supply them with the vaccine.
India exported its first batch on Wednesday — to Bhutan and the Maldives — followed by two million doses to Bangladesh and a million to Nepal.
The country plans to offer 20 million doses to its South Asian neighbours, with Latin America, Africa and Central Asia next in line.