Coronavirus vaccine consignment awaits government nod for take-off from Pune
On Thursday night, the Pune Airport was prepared to airlift vials of coronavirus vaccine, the first such exercise in India's massive inoculation drive. But the consignment couldn't be shipped as the Serum Institute of India (SII) was awaiting formal orders from the government of India, reports TOI. The task is expected to be completed on Friday, nearly a week after India approved two vaccines.
SII is producing millions of doses of Oxford's vaccine
SII is producing millions of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be given priority in the drive. But Adar Poonawalla's company is yet to receive a formal order from the Centre. SII Executive Director Suresh Jadhav underlined the government just notified its plans verbally. He said, "We have 50 million doses ready and can deliver it the day we receive the order."
Company not entertaining other requests, will cater to India's demands
Jadhav told TOI that SII has received orders from seven institutions, but is committed to meet the demands of the domestic market first. Another SII official added all they needed was a nod from the government. Pune Airport Director Kuldeep Singh also declared that the airport is ready for the transportation process; Airports Authority of India (AAI) expressed the same sentiment yesterday as well.
Pune Airport handles 150 tonne cargo daily: AAI
Everyday, Pune @aaipunairport operates 40 flights to 15 destinations across the country. The airport handles 150 tonne cargo daily. #AAI @AAICLAS_in are fully ready and capable of contributing airport resources for transportation of #COVID19 vaccine in the national interest. pic.twitter.com/S7nncuAsNp— Airports Authority of India (@AAI_Official) January 7, 2021
The consignment might be transported today
Airline officials, who chose anonymity, told that Civil Aviation Ministry orders delayed the transportation, but didn't divulge what drove the decision. They claimed the process could finally begin today. "Friday might see the transportation process starting but we cannot confirm it," one official said. In fact, Singh also dismissed reports that vaccines were transported in an Air India flight to Delhi.
Bengal was informed it will get the doses today
Since West Bengal has been notified by the Union Health Ministry that it will receive the vaccine today, chances are the transportation will begin soon. The state will receive several boxes, each containing vaccines for 12,000 people. They will be transported to Government Medical Store Depot (GMSD) in Bagbazar, Kolkata, and subsequently sent to district vaccine stores while ensuring that temperature isn't compromised.
Indians will get the vaccine in few days: Health Minister
Today, Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced that Indians will get the vaccine in a few days. "In a short period of time, India has done well by developing vaccines. In the next few days, in the near future, we should be able to give these vaccines to our countrymen. It will be given to our healthcare professional followed by frontline workers," he declared.
Pan-India second dry run started today
Meanwhile, a second dry run to test the efficiency of the vaccine delivery system started today across the nation. The drill will be conducted at three sites of 736 districts across all states and union territories to judge the feasibility of the Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) application and understand the challenges. The first dry run held on January 2 was deemed successful.