Pune, January 12
A decisive phase in India’s fight against coronavirus began in the wee hours of Tuesday as the first consignment of Covishield vaccines left for Delhi, four days ahead of the nationwide inoculation drive launch.
A SpiceJet flight carrying the vaccines left for the national capital around 8 am, three hours after three trucks with the maiden consignment of the vaccines rolled out of the Serum Institute of India facility, 15 km from the airport.
“Ready get set go! Stand by India! The vaccine to kill the disease is being loaded into the aircraft for distribution all over the country now,” the Pune airport tweeted.
Three temperature-controlled trucks rolled out of the Serum Institute gates shortly before 5 am and left for Pune airport, from where the vaccines will be flown across India.
The trucks carried 478 boxes of the vaccines, each box weighing 32 kg, a source involved in the vaccine transport arrangements told PTI.
A ‘puja’ was performed before the vehicles left the facility.
Besides Delhi, the vaccines will be dispatched to 12 other locations across the country in seven more flights by 10 am on Tuesday, the source said.
The locations include Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Karnal, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guwahati, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar.
The flights include two cargo flights, the source said. The first cargo flight would cover Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Bhubaneswar and the second cargo flight would go to Kolkata and Guwahati, he added.
The consignment for Mumbai will leave by road. Trucks belonging to Kool-ex Cold Chain Ltd are being used to ferry the vaccine stocks from Serum Institute.
A consignment will be flown to to Ahmedabad.
On Monday, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel tweeted that his state would receive the first consignment of coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday at 10.45 am at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport in Ahmedabad.
The Central government on Monday placed firm orders in advanced commitments for over six crore doses of vaccines from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for inoculating three crore health care and frontline workers in the first phase of the nationwide vaccination drive beginning January 16.
Interacting with state chief ministers on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the enormity of what he called as the world’s biggest vaccination exercise, saying over 30 crore citizens would get the jabs in the next few months in India against only 2.5 crore people vaccinated so far in over 50 countries in around a month. PTI