Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Friday said that over Rs 1,000-crore worth of equipment and products were damaged in the fire that broke out at the company’s building in Pune, reported NDTV.
“The loss is mainly financial,” Poonawalla said addressing a joint press conference with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. “There is no loss to supplies as such.”
He reiterated his Thursday’s statement that the supply of the coronavirus vaccine, Covishield, will not be affected by the incident. The Serum Institute of India is engaged in large-scale manufacturing of Covishield developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
Poonawalla said that the building where the fire broke out was a brand new facility for future production of BCG tuberculosis vaccine. “No actual vaccine was actually being produced there, so there was no damage to any vaccine,” he said. “Where Covishield is manufactured and stored, no damage was done to that.”
Poonwalla also said that the institute has taken responsibility for the five people who died in the fire. On Thursday, the company had announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to each of the families of the five labourers who died, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms.
When asked if there was any negligence from the side of the Serum Insitute, Thackeray said that it will be ascertained only after an investigation. “We can’t comment before the investigation is complete,” he said. “After that will be able to say whether it was negligence or anything else.”
Meanwhile, three Maharashtra government agencies have launched a joint investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire, PTI reported. Heads of fire departments of the Pune Municipal Corporation, Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation are part of the investigating team.
“As we are seeing today, the entire floor (4th and 5th) has been damaged,” said Devendra Potphode, chief fire officer of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority. “We are trying to ascertain the cause of the fire as well as how the fire spread.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 5) Namrata Patil said that they have registered an accidental death and burning incident case with the Hadapsar police station.
Patil had told PTI on Thursday that the fire broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floor of the SEZ 3 building on the Serum Institute premises. Ten fire and two water tenders were sent to the spot. Fire had erupted once again after 7 pm but was doused.