Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Pune: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday described the dispatch of Covishield vaccines for the January 16 national inoculation drive a "proud and historic" moment.

Early Tuesday, the first consignment of the vaccines rolled out of the SII facility in Pune for transport to various locations in the country.

Speaking to the select media persons at the SII facility, Poonawalla said the real challenge lies in taking the vaccine to the "common man, to the vulnerable groups of people and to healthcare workers".

"Our trucks left the SII facility early morning and now the vaccine is being distributed in the entire country.

This is a proud and historic moment as scientists, experts and all other stake-holders took great efforts while making this vaccine in less than a year," he said.

Poonawalla said the SII has offered the vaccine to the Government of India (GoI) at a special price of Rs 200.

"This is one of the most affordable vaccines in the world and we are offering it to the GoI at a special price just to support the Prime Minister's vision and to support the 'aam aadami' of our country," he added.

He also said that once the SII get the requisite permission, the vaccine will be made available in the private market at the cost Rs 1,000.

Poonawalla further said the SII is not only providing the vaccine in India, "but it is also committed to provide it to other countries who are looking at India at this point".

Covishield is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII.

A 'puja' was performed before the three temperature controlled trucks rolled out of Serum Institute gates shortly before 5 am and moved towards the Pune airport, about 15 km away, from where the vaccines were flown across India.

1st Batch Of Covishield Vaccine Reaches Delhi & Other States, UTs

Meanwhile, the first batch of Covishield vaccine vials reached Delhi's central storage facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) Tuesday afternoon.

A SpiceJet flight carrying the vaccine batch landed at the Delhi airport around 10 am on Tuesday, four days ahead of the launch of a nationwide drive against the coronavirus. Thereafter, the Delhi Police formed a "green corridor" to safely transport the vials to the hospital, the Delhi government's largest COVID-19 facility.

"The truck carrying the vaccines arrived at the hospital around 3:10 pm," a source said.

A special cold storage facility has been created at RGSSH to store the vaccine vials.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI Airport) Rajeev Ranjan said adequate security arrangements have been made at the storage site, and Police Control Room (PCR) vans will also cover them in their patrolling plans.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahadra) Amit Sharma said, "We have deployed the personnel at the storage area of the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital."

Earlier, officials said more than 2.54 lakh doses of Covishield, developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, will be delivered at RGSSH.

"The storage facility at RGSSH can stock up to about 50,000 vaccine vials, and all arrangements have been made there to keep it in a temperature-controlled environment," a senior official had said.

From there, it will be transported in a special vehicle under heavy security to the vaccination centres.

The Delhi government has chosen 89 sites in the national capital, including government and private hospitals, for the first phase of the immunisation drive meant for about three lakh healthcare workers.

On the other hand, the first consignment of Covishield vaccine also reached Central Family Medical Stores in Bagbazar, Kolkata, West Bengal, where it is being stored.

Bihar also received its first consignment of Covishield. The vaccine was brought to Nalanda Medical College in Patna.

Karnataka received its first consignment of 7.95 lakh vials of Covidshield in Bengaluru. Each dose of vaccine contains 0.5 ml and each vial contains 10 dosages of vaccines.

The first consignment of COVID vaccines also arrived at Hyderabad airport.

Hyderbad airport CEO Pradeep Panicker stated that the first consignment of Bharat Biotech will be going to 11 destinations outside the state by today evening.

Tamil Nadu received the first batch of COVID19 vaccine 'Covishield' in Chennai.

(With PTI Inputs)