President, PM Modi express grief after 5 die in Serum Institute fire incident

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday expressed grief over the demise of five people who lost their lives in the fire incident at Serum Institute of India (SII), in Pune.

“The loss of lives in a fire accident at the Serum Institute of India in Pune is distressing. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. I wish speedy recovery of the injured,” President Kovind tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the deaths caused by the fire incident.

“Anguished by the loss of lives due to an unfortunate fire at Serum Institute of India. In this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest,” PM Modi tweeted.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan along with several other BJP leaders also expressed grief over the incident.

This comes after a fire had broken out at SII’s Manjari Plant earlier today, in which five people died and six were rescued from an under-construction building. Later today, another fire broke out again in one of the compartments of the building at SII, in Pune. A fire fighting operation is underway.

“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjari, Pune, where the fire mishap took place, to inspect and take stock of the situation tomorrow at noon,” said Office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra (CMO).

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the initial fire was caused by some ongoing welding work at the site. Adar Poonawalla, the Chief executive officer (CEO) and owner of SII expressed grief over the loss of lives.

“We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation, we’ve learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to family members of the departed,” Poonawalla tweeted.

Later today, SII offered compensation of Rs 25 lakhs to each affected family, in addition to mandated amount as per the norms.

“Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at SII. We’re deeply saddened & offer our condolences to families of the departed. We’ll be offering compensation of Rs 25 Lakhs to each family, in addition to mandated amount as per the norms,” said Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman & MD, SII.

The fire broke out at about 2:45 pm at an under-construction building where vaccine production was supposed to start after a month. The fire broke out at 4th and 5th floor of the SEZ3 building. BCG vaccine laboratory was there at 3rd floor of the same building but that is unaffected. The COVISHIELD plant is almost about 1km distance from fire incident site.

It may be noted that the country’s apex drugs regulator had granted restricted emergency use permission to SII’s Covishield vaccine in India.

Millions of vaccine doses are being manufactured by Serum Institute under technical collaboration with Oxford University/Astra Zeneca. It is pertinent to note that COVISHIELD (SII-ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine contains the replication-deficient simian adenovirus vector ChAdOx1, containing the structural surface glycoprotein (Spike protein) antigens of SARS-CoV-2.