India gears up for ‘world’s biggest vaccination drive’ - GulfToday

India gears up for ‘world’s biggest vaccination drive’


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.”

India-COVID-19-StudentA student sanitises her hands upon arrival in the school to attend her class in Ahmedabad. Amit Dave/Reuters

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.


India hands back Chinese soldier caught in Ladakh

Indian army officer accused of killing Kashmiri civilians for cash reward of $27,200

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.

Related articles