TODAY -

Half of "Covishield" doses for phase I reach across the country
PM CARES fund to bear the cost of initial vaccination

Source: IT News

Pune, January 13 2021: While much-anticipated nationwide inoculation drive against the COVID-19 outbreak is slated to kick off on Saturday, January 16, with priority to the healthcare and the frontline workers, about half a crore doses of Pune-based Serum Institute of India's (SII's) "Covishield" vaccine were shipped out of Pune to cities across India on Tuesday.

By 4 pm, on Tuesday, 54.72 lakh doses of the vaccine reached stores around the country, the Union Health Ministry said at a briefing.

The first consignment of 2.64 lakh doses of the vaccine took off for Delhi on a SpiceJet flight soon after 8 AM and landed in the national capital by 10 am.

A GoAir flight to Chennai and an Air India flight to Ahmedabad followed.

The last flight to leave with the cargo was the Pune-Lucknow Indigo (IGO 882), which departed from Pune at 2.10 pm and reached Lucknow airport at 4.47 pm.

The Centre has signed a contract with SII for the supply of 11 million doses of "Covishield", the Indian variant of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the novel coronavirus. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla twitted that it was an emotional moment for the team of SII.

As the first shipments of "Covishield" finally left for multiple locations across India.

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla Group, which includes SII, said that a bigger order was expected next week.

SII authorities said that the special price of Rs 200 per dose was given to the Union government for the first lot of 10 crore doses.

A total of nine flights carrying 477 boxes of Covishield vaccine, each weighing 32 kg, left Pune airport for nine different destinations.

The destinations the vaccines were sent on Tuesday included Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Patna.

Taking to Twitter, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed that four airlines— SpiceJet, IndiGo, Air India, Go Air will operate nine flights to transport 56.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pune to 13 cities across the country.

"Today @airindiain @flyspicejet @goairlinesindia & @IndiGo6E will operate 9 flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow & Chandigarh," Puri said on Twitter.

"The vaccine consignments were transported in the belly of scheduled passenger flights.

Since these were the initial shipments, the quantity was less, and could, therefore, be accommodated in passenger flights.

Going ahead, there could be a requirement for freighter aircraft," an executive with one of the airlines said.

In the meanwhile the centre is expected to spend nearly Rs 1300 crore for six crore dosages in the initial stage with the Government incurring the expenses of Rs 200 per dose.

Around three crore healthcare workers and frontline workers will be vaccinated in the first phase of vaccination.

In the second phase, those above 50 years and those under 50 years with co-morbid conditions will be vaccinated.

The Prime Minister's Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation (PM-CARES) was set up on 27 March 2020 with the primary objective to deal with the emergency situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the country's drugs regulator has given its nod to two coronavirus vaccines - Oxford's Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute in India, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech, for restricted emergency use.

The Opposition has criticised the saying the PM CARES fund is being utilised for other purposes.

However, the Centre has rubbished the allegations and maintained that donations are being used only in the fight against COVID-19 .


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