A fire broke out on Thursday inside the sprawling complex of the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune, but the ongoing production of coronavirus vaccines has not been affected.
Pictures showed smoke billowing out of a building in SII’s massive headquarters complex spread across several acres.
“Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers,” Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Twitter.
“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.”
SII is the world’s largest vaccine maker and is producing around 50 million doses a month of the Covid-19 vaccine, under licence from Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
The fire department said at least five fire trucks had been sent to fight the blaze at the building, which reported to be a new vaccine plant that was in the process of being constructed.
The SII-produced Covishield vaccine is one of two being used in India’s inoculation drive and has also been exported to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan as well as friendly countries such as Brazil. There are as many as 92 countries in line for the vaccine which is much cheaper than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and easier to handle as it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
SII is also getting ready to produce a vaccine being developed by the U.S. company Novavax Inc.