Multiple people are reportedly dead after a fire broke out at the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, as companies try to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines.
The fire reportedly broke out Thursday at the Serum Institute in Pune City in a building reportedly under construction, killing at least five people before the blaze was extinguished, The Associated Press reported.
The Mayor of Pune City, Murlidhar Mohol, told the Associated Press that the five that were found dead were “probably” construction workers. Mohol also said that the cause of the fire or the extent of the damage to the Serum Institute was not immediately clear.
BREAKING: Fire hits factory belonging to Serum Institute of India, world’s largest vaccine maker; COVID-19 vaccine not affected. https://t.co/wx79GtkPB1
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 21, 2021
The CEO of the Serum Institute, Adar Poonawalla, told the Associated Press that while he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life as a result, the company would not see reduction in production of the COVID vaccine since the company has other existing facilities. (REALTED: Supply Issue Disrupts More Than 20,000 Vaccination Appointments In NYC)
Poonawalla also told the Associated Press that the fire did not affect other facilities who are manufacturing the vaccine, and did not affect an existing stockpile of 50 million doses. The company has previously promised an increase in production capacity from 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion doses per year by the end of 2021.
The Serum Institute, which has been contracted to manufacture a billion doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is also helping with exports of the vaccine to other low and middle-income countries who need access.