A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across India on Tuesday, four days before the vaccinations are scheduled to begin on January 16.
The first consignment of the vaccines rolled out of the Serum Institute of India facility in Pune early Tuesday and reached Delhi a few hours later.
The vaccine movement has started, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter. Four airlines will operate nine flights to transport 56.5 lakh doses of the vaccine from Pune to 13 cities across the country on Tuesday, he said.
Covishield is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII.
The first two flights operated by “SpiceJet and GoAir from Pune to Delhi and Chennai have taken off”, the minister said in the morning. “I am happy to share that SpiceJet has carried India’s first consignment of COVID vaccine today. The first consignment of Covishield consisting of 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg was carried from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight 8937,” said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet.
The flight carrying the vaccines landed at Delhi airport around 10 am. It left for the national capital around 8 am.
A puja was performed before the three temperature-controlled trucks rolled out of Serum Institute gates shortly before 5 am and moved towards the Pune airport, about 15 km away, from where the vaccines were flown across India.
The “vaccine to kill the disease is being loaded onto the aircrafts for distribution all over the country now”, Pune airport tweeted.
Other airlines that transported the vaccines from Pune on Tuesday are GoAir, IndiGo and Air India.
Air India said it carried its first consignment of 2,76,000 vaccine doses, weighing 700 kg approximately, from Pune to Ahmedabad. IndiGo said it moved 900 kg from Pune to Chandigarh and Lucknow via flight 6E 6515 and 6E 882, respectively. “We will be carrying multiple vaccine consignments to different Indian cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada through the day today. SpiceJet is fully committed and prepared to transport the Covid vaccine both within and outside India,” added the SpiceJet CMD.
Giving details, SpiceJet said its consignments included 276,000 doses to Guwahati, 996,000 doses to Kolkata, 3,72,000 doses to Hyderabad, 480,000 doses to Bhubaneswar, 648,000 doses to Bengaluru, 552,000 doses to Patna and 408,000 doses to Vijayawada.