5 Die in Fire at Building Belonging to the World's Largest Vaccine Producer

A fire that ripped through a building at the world's largest vaccine maker has left at least five people dead, according to reports.

The blaze erupted at a building under construction at the Serum Institute of India in Pune on Thursday, BBC reported. The institute is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, which was recently approved for use by United Kingdom health officials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

After firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze, they recovered five bodies from the area, which they believe to be construction workers, according to Associated Press.

Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute's CEO, offered his condolences to the families of the dead in a tweet following the incident.

"We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident," he said in the message.

"We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed," Poonawalla added.

The 40-year-old, whose father founded Serum Institute in 1966, said vaccine availability would not be affected by the deadly incident.

"I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of [the vaccine] production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia," he tweeted. "Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice & Fire Department."

According to BBC, India is only behind the United States for the highest amount of coronavirus infections in the world. They hope to have 300 million people vaccinated in the country by August.

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been more than 24.5 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and there have been 408,130 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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