The first batch of Covishield, the Serum Institute of India’s coronavirus vaccine, left Pune early this morning, four days ahead of the nationwide inoculation drive against COVID-19.
Amid tight security, three temperature-controlled trucks rolled out of the Serum Institute gates with their precious cargo shortly before 5 am. The trucks carried 478 boxes of the vaccines, each box weighing 32 kg, news agency PTI reported quoting an unnamed official. A ”puja” was performed before the vehicles left the facility for the Pune airport.
From the airport, the vaccines are being dispatched to 13 cities.
“Ready get set go! Stand by India! The vaccine to kill the disease is being loaded into the aircraft for distribution all over the country now,” Pune airport tweeted.
The vaccines will be flown from Pune in nine commercial flights, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
“Today, Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo Airlines will operate nine flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh,” he said.
A SpiceJet flight carrying the vaccines left for the national capital around 8 am.
“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. 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,” said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.
The vaccines are also being flown out in two cargo flights to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Kolkata and Guwahati, PTI reported quoting a source.