With India's COVID-19 inoculation drive set to commence on Saturday (16 January), Pune's Serum Institute of India dispatched over 56 lakh doses of the Oxford vaccine Covishield to 13 cities on Tuesday, according to several media reports.
On Thursday, the Union health ministry said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. He is likely to interact via video link with some healthcare workers from across the country who will be receiving the shots on the first day, PTI reported.
Modi is also likely to launch the Co-WIN (COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network) App, a digital platform created for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution.
A limited number of sites out of the 2,934 inoculation sites have been shortlisted from where the beneficiaries can interact with the prime minister and the authorities in those centres have been asked to make provisions for IT infrastructure for providing a two-way interactive communication facility to enable it to link and interact with the national launch site through a video link.
According to the guidelines issued to the shortlisted vaccination centres, the group of 'healthcare workers' shall also include nursing orderlies, safai karamcharis, ambulance drivers along with doctors and nurses. The beneficiaries will be chosen from a mixed age group, including above 50 years.
The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines " Covishield and Covaxin " has been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database.
"Therefore, there is no question of discrimination against any state in allocation of vaccination doses. This is the initial lot of supply of vaccine doses and would be continuously replenished in the weeks to come. Therefore, any apprehension being expressed on account of deficient supply is totally baseless and unfounded," the ministry said on Thursday.
States have been advised to organise vaccination sessions taking into account 10 percent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session per day.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, a Vistara flight transported four boxes of Covaxin from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Another Vistara flight carried 16 boxes of Covishield from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai to Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi.
SpiceJet said it transported 3.5 tonnes of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to 11 cities across the country. "On 13 January, 2021, SpiceJet shipped 111 boxes of Covid-19 vaccine, weighing 3.5 tonnes from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to 11 cities including Bagdogra, Dehradun, Srinagar, Jammu, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Jabalpur, Ranchi, Rajkot, Delhi and Bengaluru," the airline said in a statement.
From Mumbai, SpiceJet flights carried 74 boxes of Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine to various cities including two to Bagdogra, 10 to Dehradun, seven to Srinagar, six to Jammu, six to Kanpur, nine to Gorakhpur, 13 to Jabalpur, 14 to Ranchi and seven to Rajkot.
A SpiceJet flight carried a shipment of three boxes of Covaxin from Hyderabad to Bengaluru, while another flight of the same carrier carried 34 boxes of Covishield from Pune to Delhi. The first consignment of Covishield reached Mumbai on Wednesday morning from Pune in a special vehicle of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The first consignment of Covidshield vaccine arrived at the Cochin international airport on Wednesday morning, with another expected to reach Thiruvananthapuram international airport in the later hours. A day after receiving over 40,000 vials of Covishield, another 20,000 doses reached Odisha's Biju Patnaik International Airport, according to Indian Express. Goa also received 23,500 doses of Covishield vaccine via a flight from Mumbai, while 56,500 doses of Covishield were flown into Agartala.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said that around 35,000 doses of Covishield reached the State Vaccination Center in Shillong. Meanwhile, the first consignment of 3.23 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine reached Chhattisgarh's capital Raipur from Pune on Wednesday via an IndiGo flight, according to PTI.
On Tuesday, the vials were delivered through nine flights from four airlines to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
The first consignment of vaccines, carrying 2,64,000 doses, was sent to Delhi through a SpiceJet flight, according to a Hindustan Times report.
The coronavirus vaccine will be administered across 89 sites in Delhi, of which 36 are government hospitals and 53 are private hospitals, said Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain. Three lakh healthcare workers and six lakh frontline workers including the police and civil defence personnel will be vaccinated in the first two rounds, followed by 42 lakh people above the age of 50 and those below with comorbidities.
Kolkata was sent the most number of doses " 9,96,000 " through a SpiceJet flight while Chandigarh received 2,28,000 doses via an Indigo flight. Chennai and Ahmedabad got 7,08,000 and 2,76,000 doses of the Oxford vaccine via GoAir and Air India flights respectively.
In Hyderabad, 3,72,000 doses of vaccines were delivered in a SpiceJet flight while Vijaywada received 4,08,000 vials via another SpiceJet flight. Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Bengaluru and Patna got 3,72,000, 4,80,000, 2,76,000, 6,48,000 and 5,52,000 doses of vaccine respectively in on five different SpiceJet flights. Lucknow got 2,64,000 vaccine vials in a GoAir flight.
Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar said Karnakata has two vaccines storage facilities in Bengaluru and Belagavi, besides five regional storage centres at Chitradurga, Kalburgi, Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru and Bagalakote. Meanwhile, Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma said the state expects to vaccinate around 4.5 lakh people in the first phase of vaccination.
A vaccine consignment left for Mumbai on Tuesday evening, to be sent to 27 places across the country on Wednesday. The Centre said all the vaccine vials - 1.1 crore of Covishield and 55 lakh of Covaxin - will be received by 14 January.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there are four Central Government Medical Stores Depots at Chennai, Karnal, Kolkata and Mumbai to receive the Covaxin vials. Besides this, all states have at least one regional vaccine store. Uttar Pradesh has nine stores, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat four, Kerala has three facilities, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Rajasthan have two each, he said.
While the Maharashtra government has trained 18,000 vaccinators and set up 4,200 centres and 3,145 cold chain systems, Rajasthan has identified 1,800 vaccination session sites and more than 5,000 vaccinators for administering the vaccine.
The vaccination drive will commence on 16 January, during which priority will be given to around three crore healthcare and frontline workers. Following them will be those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, estimated to be around 27 crore.
Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin were given a go ahead for restricted emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) last week. In the first phase, the cost of vaccination for these 3 crore people would be borne by the Central Government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said the institute has offered the vaccine to the Central Government at a special price of Rs 200. He also said that once the SII gets the requisite permission, the vaccine will be made available in the private market for Rs 1,000.
With inputs from PTI