Fire guts biggest coronavirus vaccine plant in India

Fire tore through part of the world’s biggest vaccine production hub in western India on Thursday, but the company insisted that the production of drugs to counter the coronavirus pandemic was not affected.

Serum Institute of India is producing millions of doses of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

TV channels showed thick clouds of grey smoke billowing from the sprawling site in Pune.

A fire official told reporters that “three or four people were inside” when the blaze broke out, but all had been rescued.

“No one is trapped inside,” the official said, adding that the blaze had been brought under control.

Both police and the company said the cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

The firm’s billionaire chief executive Adar Poonawalla tweeted that “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”.

The complex where the fire broke out is a few minutes’ drive from the facility where coronavirus vaccines are produced, reports said.

Up to nine buildings are under construction at the complex to enhance Serum’s manufacturing capability, NDTV reported.

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