Serum gets order for 1.1cr vaccine doses, begins transportation amid tight security

The process of transporting Covishield vaccine began on Monday after Serum Institute of India (SII) received the Centre’s initial purchase order for 11 million (1.1 crore) doses at Rs 200 per dose.

Pune: The process of transporting Covishield vaccine began on Monday after Serum Institute of India (SII) received the Centre’s initial purchase order for 11 million (1.1 crore) doses at Rs 200 per dose.

This makes the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being manufactured by SII, the first Covid-19 vaccine to be used for a mass immunisation programme.

NITI Aayog member (health) VK Paul told a television channel that both Covishield and Covaxin would be used in the initial phase itself.

On Monday evening, six refrigerated trucks reached SII to begin transportation of the Covishield vaccine amid tight police security. The trucks containing vials of the vaccine were set to leave the institute early Tuesday for dispatch across the country.

The vaccine will be given to priority groups, including healthcare and frontline workers, for free from January 16.

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Sources confirmed late on Monday night that the vaccine shipments will be dispatched by various flights from Pune airport on Tuesday morning to Chennai, Patna, Chandigarh, Delhi, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Vijaywada and Bhubaneswar. The vaccine, likely to be available in the market by June, is expected to cost Rs 1,000 per dose then.

A cold chain logistics service provider, Kool-Ex Cold Chain Ltd, has been assigned the responsibility of moving the vaccine from SII’s plant in Pune to 48 government depots in the first leg.
On Monday, police vans escorted the trucks to the SII premises, where policemen were deployed throughout the day. Police have said that four vans, each with four policemen, will be escorting the trucks from SII to the airport.

Sources said of the six trucks, two were expected to go to Gujarat and one to Karnal. Some shipments are expected by the first flights out of Pune airport on Tuesday.

Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, “Police will also provide bandobast to SII trucks carrying the vaccine to different parts of the state and to the state borders, if the trucks are going to other states.”

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