After SII fire, BCG, rotavirus vaccine production to be hit
Thursday's fire at Pune's Serum Institute of India will impact the production of BCG and rotavirus vaccines in the future, the company said on Friday. A massive fire had erupted at an under-construction building in the Manjari complex, leaving five workers dead. The fire had made international headlines as the SII has been contracted to manufacture a billion doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine.
The SII said that it has "suffered financial losses due to the fire that broke in an under-installation building of SII plant at Manjari, Pune, and this will impact the production of BCG and rota vaccines in the future." Speaking to The Print, an official said that the vaccine production would be hit "due to the loss of high-end equipment and world-class machinery."
Both BCG and rotavirus vaccines are part of the national immunization program. The BCG vaccine is for preventing tuberculosis and is administered to infants. The three-dose rotavirus vaccine, used to prevent serious diarrhea, is given to children from six to 14 weeks of age.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had clarified on Thursday that the fire did not impact the production of the COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield. "I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia," he had tweeted.
The fire had broken out on the upper floors of an under-construction building in the Manjari complex. The local administration had taken three hours to douse the fire. Fire brigade officials rescued nine people trapped inside the burning building. Five people lost their lives in the inferno. Their families will be provided Rs. 25 lakh each as financial compensation.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said welding sparks caused the fire while inflammable material present at the site aggravated it. "Rotavirus plant installation was going on when welding sparks caused the fire due to highly inflammable material present at the spot," Tope had said on Thursday. "Police investigation is on and a fire audit of the building will also be conducted."