Trucks carrying first consignment of COVISHIELD leave Serum Bio-Pharma Park in Pune. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Indian carrier Spicejet carried a large consignment of COVID-19 vaccines from the city of Pune to the capital New Delhi on Tuesday in preparation for what it called the world’s biggest ever inoculation drive.
The first vaccine shipments contain the COVISHIELD vaccine made by the Serum Institute and developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
An official displays a vial containing COVISHIELD after a consignment of the vaccines arrived from Pune. Reuters
The private carrier will transport bulk vaccine consignments to several cities as state authorities prepare to launch the distribution process.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri called the shipping of vaccines a "momentous mission.”
Meanwhile, it has started shipping COVID-19 vaccines to multiple cities, four days ahead of the nationwide inoculation drive.
“Today marks the beginning of a long and decisive phase in India’s fight against the pandemic and SpiceJet is proud to assist in the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind,” the airline’s chairman and managing director, Ajay Singh, said.
Beginning Saturday, India will start the massive undertaking of inoculating an estimated 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. The effort will then turn to inoculating around 270 million people who are either older than 50 or have secondary health conditions that raise their risks of dying from COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases rose by 12,584 on Tuesday - the lowest daily increase in several months - to 10.48 million and number of deaths increased by 167 to 151,327.
Health officials in several states told Reuters they were ready to receive their first consignments.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home-state, Gujarat, officials said vaccine distribution was their top priority.
Officials unload boxes containing vials of COVISHIELD vaccine after a consignment arrived from Pune. Reuters
“These vaccines will be taken to the cold storage from the airport and swiftly delivered to vaccination booths,” said Nitin Patel, the deputy chief minister of Gujarat.
Modi’s government Monday signed purchase agreements with Pune-based vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, to buy Covishield - over a week after approving the vaccine.
Senior officials are discussing the terms of the deal with the Serum Institute, hoping to bring down prices below $3 per shot. The negotiations have delayed the roll-out of the immunization programme.
Co-Win, the coordinating app was developed by the Indian government to help healthcare workers manage and monitor the immunisation programme.
India, the world’s most populous country after China, has said it may not need to vaccinate all of its 1.35 billion people to create herd immunity. Still, covering even half its population will make it one of the largest immunisation programmes in the world.
India plans to vaccinate 300 million people in the first half of 2021. Shots could start getting distributed as early as next week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday, it said.
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