3 trucks filled with the first doses of the Covishield vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) left from the Serum Institute of India (SII) building on the outskirts of Pune to the airport, from where they are scheduled to be sent to various locations across India.
Timeline of the events:- 2 of the trucks were marked Serum Institute of India and one 1was marked Kool-Ex Cold Chain Ltd, which has partnered with SII for the transportation of the vaccines. Namrata Patil, the deputy commissioner of Police, cracked open a coconut to flag off the trucks. She was accompanied by SII employees who did a round of applause as the trucks left the building amidst heavy police cover.
The 3 trucks left the SII building early morning, at 4:55 am behind a police escort vehicle with more police officials following it soon after. The unloading started at Pune International Airport, the cargo terminal, at around 5:30 am. A handful of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials was providing security to the cargo entrance of the airport as the boxes were unloaded one by one.
The boxes are going to be transported on multiple flights of private airlines throughout the day and are bound for cities in multiple states.
A prominent airport official has confirmed that 14 flights were to leave from Pune airport with the vaccine vials weighing 14.592 tonnes in about 456 boxes. A SpiceJet flight, which will leave Pune at 8:05 am, will be the first aircraft to carry the boxes containing the vaccine vials to Delhi.
Private air carriers are going to carry these vaccines and those include two Chennai-bound, two Chandigarh-bound, two Kolkata-bound, and one each headed for Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Patna, and Lucknow.
Covishield is the Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The cartons will further be distributed to almost 60 cold storage points spread across the country for the nationwide vaccination drive on January 16.
The first step after a purchase is made, is for the manufacturer to deliver supplies by air to the primary vaccine stores run by the Union health ministry, which is called Government Medical Stores Depot (GMSD).
There are four such large depots functional at the moment in the country, one each in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.
The supplies will then leave these main depots and they will be diverted to two points in refrigerated or insulated vans. 1 of the deployment points is the state vaccine stores that are 56 in number spread across various states.
After that, it is the responsibility either of the state governments or the Union Territory administration to deploy the stock further as per the state requirement. From the state stores, the supplies will be sent in refrigerated and insulated vans to the district vaccine stores, which is also a temperature control facility,
The Indian Government had formally sent a purchase order to the company on Monday evening for 11 million doses of Covishield, at a special price of Rs200 per dose for the first million doses.
Currently, the deal is for procuring 11 million doses that are expected to cover the first phase of the vaccination drive involving 10 million healthcare workers across the country. Subsequently, there is a plan to procure about 45 million more doses by April 2021.
The government of India is keeping a margin of about 10%, to factor in the wastage possibility of the vaccine, especially at the vaccination sites.