300 million people to be administered the Covishield vaccine in India in the first phase of the inoculation drive which will start on January 16, 2021.
The Covishield vaccine is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish Company AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Pune (SII). The first batches of the vaccine have already been rolled out four days prior to nationwide inoculation from SII, Pune for Delhi and 12 other cities on January 12, 2021, amid tight security. Three temperature controlled trucks carried 478 boxes of the vaccines, each weighing 32 kg to the Pune airport. The airport authorities would be following the instructions issued by the Centre for packaging and transportation of Covishield vaccines by air. The airport authorities need to ensure that the vaccines are packaged in dry ice and refrigerated materials in order to induce low temperature ranging between -8 degrees celcius to -70 degrees celcius which is ideal for transportation.
Nine flights operated by IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Air India took off with 56.5 lakhs doses to Delhi, Chennai, Guwahati, Kolkata, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh. The consignment for Mumbai would go via roadways.
SpiceJet flight 8937 carried the first consignment of Covishield vaccine consisting of 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg from Pune to Delhi. Ajay Singh, Chairman and managing director, SpiceJet stated that SpiceJet would be carrying multiple vaccine consignments to different Indian cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, and Patna throughout the day. ‘SpiceJet is fully committed and prepared to transport the Covid-19 vaccine both within and outside India. 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,’ he said.
The government of India has already ordered 11 million doses of Covishield and has plans to buy a total of 110 million doses at Rs. 200/ dose by April, 2021.
The Covishield vaccine will first be administered to health workers and frontline workers such as the police, civil defense personnel and sanitation workers. After that, the vaccine would be administered to people over the age of 50 and those having comorbid conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.