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The first Covishield vaccines have been consigned to Delhi from Pune on Tuesday, four days before launching a nationwide drive against the coronavirus.
Before 5 am, three temperature-controlled trucks rolled out of the Serum Institute of India (SII) and left for Pune airport, from where the vaccines will be flown across India.
The vehicles departed from the facility only after a ‘puja’ was performed.
They transported the vaccines on a SpiceJet flight which landed in Delhi airport around 10 am. It had left for the national capital around 8:00 am after the three trucks had loaded the maiden consignment of the vaccines.
“Vaccine movement has started,” said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Twitter, adding that first two flights operated by “SpiceJet and GoAir from Pune to Delhi and Chennai have taken off.”
He said that four airlines would operate nine flights to transport 56.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pune to 13 cities across the country on Tuesday.
“I am happy to share that SpiceJet has carried India’s first consignment of COVID vaccine today. The first consignment of Covishield comprising 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg was carried from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight 8937,” Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said.
Covishield is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII.
“Today marks the beginning of a long and decisive phase in India’s fight against the pandemic, and SpiceJet is proud to assist in the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind,” said SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh.
“We will carry multiple vaccine consignments to different Indian cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada through the day today. SpiceJet is fully committed and prepared to transport the Covid vaccine both within and outside India,” Singh said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on the vastness of the vaccination dispatch.
He called it the world’s largest vaccination exercise because over 30 crore citizens of India will get the jabs in the next few months against only 2.5 crore people vaccinated so far in over 50 countries in around a month.