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India: Fire at COVID-19 vaccine plant kills 5

Chief executive of vaccine producer says fire will not halt production

Ahmad Adil   | 21.01.2021
India: Fire at COVID-19 vaccine plant kills 5

NEW DELHI

Five people were killed on Thursday in a massive fire that broke out in the premises of the Serum Institute of India, one of the country's largest vaccine makers, officials said.

Situated in the outskirts of Pune city in India's western Maharashtra state, the institute produces millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. It is locally known as Covishield.

India recently granted emergency use authorization to Covishield, and Covaxin, which has been developed by local firm Bharat Biotech.

Pune's mayor Murlidhar Mohol confirmed that five people were killed and four others rescued in the blaze. He told the media that the cause of the fire is being investigated.

According to the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office, "the fire broke out in the section developing BCG vaccine [against tuberculosis]" and "not in the section developing the COVID vaccine."

The "situation is under control," it added.

The Serum Institute's Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla on Twitter said the fire will not halt the vaccine production.

The company said in a statement that it would pay compensation of 2.5 million Indian rupees ($34,250) to each victim's family.

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