Pune: The massive fire that razed the Serum Institute of India (SII) to the ground and took five lives, on Thursday, has reportedly incurred the damage worth more than Rs 1,000 crore, said CEO Adar Poonawalla adding that the blaze has also affected the Rotavirus and BCG vaccine manufacturing and storage unit. Poonawalla, however, reaffirmed that the fire did not affect the supply of Covishiled, one of India’s vaccines against Covid-19.
“Damage caused by the fire is more than Rs 1000 crore. Although the fire will not affect Covishield supplies, it has damaged the Rotavirus and BCG vaccine manufacturing and storage. It’s a big financial loss for us,” Poonawala said at a press conference.
Poonawala also revealed that the building where fire was reported on Thursday was a new structure, and was built to facilitate additional product building capacity. “It did not have any stock or production. It is a brand new facility. Installation of equipment was underway there, which is what perhaps led to the incident. What we have lost is future production,” he said.
The blaze had tore down three upper floors of a newly-constructed six-storey building inside one of the campuses of Serum Institute of India. All five people who died in the fire were reportedly contractual welding and air-conditioning workers.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray along with State Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, Labour and Excise Minister Dilip Walse Patil, Pune Member of Parliament Girish Bapat, and other senior officials visited the institute to get the hold of the situation today.
“COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc around the globe. In such a situation, Serum is a ray of hope. When the news of the fire came, everyone was horrified,” state CM Thackeray said.
Poonawala, who initially had denied any causality due to the fire, also cleared the confusion over the deaths. “There was initial confusion because we did not know about the workers of the contractors. When we got an initial report that there has been no loss of life, we were relieved and hence I sent out a tweet. But later, after clearing of smoke, the bodies were discovered. We did not have a complete list of the third-party workers and did not know how many were working at the site,” he said.
The company has announced a indemnification of Rs 25 lakh to each of the families of the fire victims, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norm.