Marking India’s entry into a decisive phase against the anti-coronavirus fight, it was indeed a moment of great pride for the nation and our community, as three trucks loaded with the Covishield vaccine were despatched for the airport from vaccine maker – Serum Institute of India’s facility in Pune, as part of the very first consignment of the vaccine, on 12th January, 2021.
The Covishield vaccine doses, which will be shipped to different locations in the country by roadways and by air, are being initially shipped to 60 consignee points for further distribution across various vaccination centres pan-India. The Maharashtra government provided police security to trucks carrying vaccine doses up to airports and the state’s borders. In a statement to the media, DCP Namrata Patil said that administration has made elaborate security arrangements for the first consignment of the vaccine.
Adar Poonawala shared this proud moment on social media in a tweet, “An emotional moment for the team at SII as the first shipments of Covishield finally leave for multiple locations across India.”
Mumbai Airport Authority, on Wednesday, said that 2,72,400 doses of Covishield were sent to 20 cities of the country. Go Air’s first flight left for Goa with 23,500 doses. This was followed by SpiceJet, GoAir and Vistara planes taking the consignment to Bagdogra, Rajkot, Ranchi, Imphal, Agartala, Cochin, Bhopal, Kanpur, Jammu, Srinagar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Raipur, Dehradun, Varanasi, Indore, Thiruvananthapuram and Jabalpur.
The first phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive will start from January 16th, 2021 in India, in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world’s largest inoculation programme, with priority given to healthcare and frontline workers. The vaccine will be provided free of cost to the front line health workers and the Central government will bear the expenses of COVID-19 vaccination for frontline workers in the first stage.
The Health Ministry has said that at each vaccine centre in the country, a maximum of 100 people will be vaccinated in every session daily. After the first dose on Saturday, the beneficiaries will have to take a second dose in four weeks. The Health Ministry has also said that the number of vaccine centres will be increased gradually in the coming days.
On 14th January, 2021, SII CEO, Adar Poonawalla shared that SII would start stockpiling millions of doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine candidate starting around April. “Upwards of 40-50 million doses per month is what we are trying to stockpile starting from April,” he said.
The World Health Organisation has asked Serum Institute of India to submit its data from clinical trials of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine conducted in India for prequalification, to kick off the distribution of vaccines under the Covax Facility. WHO prequalification is a service the global organisation provides to facilitate access to medicines that meet unified standards of quality, safety and efficacy. So far, this service was for medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and is now being extended for Covid-19.