Consignments reach far corners of India, vaccine drive gains pace
New Delhi: India's drive against COVID-19 gathered momentum on Wednesday with planes carrying vaccines flying into airports across the country from where the precious cargo was dispatched to small cities and towns in readiness for the inoculation exercise beginning January 16.
From Assam to Goa and from Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala, the vaccines were carefully and swiftly transported to far corners of the country, a day after the first consignment of the Covishield vaccine from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable rolled out of the Serum Institute of India manufacturing facility in Pune.
While SII moved about 56 lakh doses of Covishield to 13 cities, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech said it had successfully transported the indigenous Covaxin, developed in collaboration with the ICMR and the National Institute of Virology, to 11 cities. It said it has donated 16.5 lakh doses to the Centre.
"After having received the government purchase order for 55 lakh doses, the company shipped the first batch of vaccines (each vial containing 20 doses)," Bharat Biotech said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the vaccine was sent to Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai and Lucknow.
As the vials began reaching their destinations, in readiness for the pan-India vaccination drive that will be launched on Saturday, states firmed up their plans and fine-tuned logistical details.
Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 caseload rose to 1,04,95,147 with 15,968 infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries surged to 1,01,29,111 pushing the national recovery rate to 96.51 per cent, according to the Union Health ministry data updated on Wednesday.
The death toll increased to 1,51,529 with 202 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The number of people in India who have tested positive for the new UK variant of Coronavirus has climbed to 102, the Union Health ministry added on Wednesday.
The first consignment of about 94,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine reached the Madhya Pradesh capital on scheduled flight from Mumbai, a state government official said.
From the airport, insulated vans of the health department transported the boxes — that signal India entering a decisive phase in its fight against the pandemic — to the State Vaccine Centre where Medical Education Minister Visvas Sarang inspected the arrangements.
Kerala, too, received its first Covishield vaccine consignment on Wednesday morning on a Go Air flight that landed at Kochi. Another flight was expected to land in Thiruvananthapuram later in the day.
Sources in the National Health Mission sources said of the 4.33 lakh doses of the vaccine, 1,100 will be sent to Mahe, an enclave of Puducherry.
Giving details of the vaccination plans for Maharashtra, Health minister Rajesh Tope said the state had already received 9.83 lakh doses of the total requirement of 17.5 lakh for the first phase.
Of these, 9.63 vials were from SII and 20,000 from Bharat Biotech, the state minister told reporters.
The Centre, he said, has asked the state to reduce the number of inoculation centres from 511 to 350, saying the government should focus on other emergencies as well.
Mumbai, which will have 72 centres, received over 1.39 lakh Covishield vaccine doses, said civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
From Mumbai, 23,500 doses of Covishield vaccine were sent to Goa.
The North-East state of Assam received its second consignment of COVID-19 vaccines on a cargo flight of a private airline carrying 12,000 doses of Covaxin. The freighter ferried three boxes, weighing around 78.5 kg, of the COVID vaccine from Hyderabad to Guwahati. The first batch of 2.40 lakh vials of COVID-19 vaccine for Assam and Meghalaya had landed on Tuesday.