Fire At Serum Institute Pune, Covishield production won’t be hit, say authorities


A fire broke out on Thursday at the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune at a facility, which is under construction. It is unlikely to hit the production of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine developed by the SII in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.

The Serum Institute of India, which prides itself as “the world’s largest vaccine maker”, is spread over 100 acres in Pune.

Manjari, the complex where the fire broke out, is a few minutes drive from the facility where the Covid vaccines are produced, sources said. It is believed to be part of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

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About eight-nine buildings are being constructed at the Manjari complex to deal with the future pandemics, aimed to enhance the SII’s manufacturing capability.

Visuals show huge plumes of smoke billowing out of the buildings. “There were four people inside the building.. We have rescued three so far although large smoke is hampering the work of bringing the fire in control,” a fire office said, giving details.

It’s not yet clear how the fire broke out. It may, however,  be linked to the massive construction taking place at the site.

Maharashtra Chief Minister office tweeted he is “in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner and is taking  complete on-ground updates”.  “He has directed the state machinery to coordinate and ensure that the situation is under control,” the statement read.

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In November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Serum Institute to review the development of coronavirus vaccine ahead of the rollout.

India launched the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine rollout last week after two vaccines – Covishield and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – were cleared by the drug controller DCGI. Three crore healthcare and frontline workers are expected to be vaccinated in the first phase.