A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process with Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities.
On the first day of shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, nearly nine flights transported 56.5 lakh doses to different parts of the country.
SpiceJet and GoAir carried the first consignment from Pune to Delhi and Chennai respectively, according to a tweet from Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri.
At least 13 cities received the shipments from the Serum Institute of India, Pune. They included Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
SpiceJet’s cargo arm, SpiceXpress, carried the bulk of the consignment — 40 lakh doses — on five flights. Of the remaining four, Air India operated one flight, IndiGo operated two and GoAir one.
A ‘puja’ was performed before the three temperature-controlled trucks rolled out of the Serum Institute gates shortly before 5 a.m. 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,” the Pune airport tweeted.
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 to Chandigarh and Lucknow.
“We will be carrying multiple vaccine consignments to cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada through the day today [Tuesday]. SpiceJet is fully committed and prepared to transport the vaccine both within and outside India,” said SpiceJet CMD.
The government on Monday placed firm orders in advanced commitments for over six crore doses of the vaccines from the SII and the Bharat Biotech for inoculating three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase of the drive scheduled to start from January 16. The cost is ₹1,300 crore.
(With PTI inputs)