Covid-19 Vaccination Update: Nearly sixty lakh doses of Covishield – the Covid-19 vaccine – on Tuesday left the Serum Institute of India’s Pune facilities as India kick-started a national vaccination drive. Around 56.5 lakh doses were despatched by air while the remaining consignments, to Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, were sent by road accompanied by police escorts. The refrigerated trucks and private planes will find their way to around 60 different locations across India. These are consignee points from where they would be distributed to various vaccination centres, official sources said.
The first lot of 1.1 crore shots has been procured by the government at Rs 200 per dose and SII has seven crore doses ready for use. Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII, said it was a historical day for the company. For now, only the government will have access to the vaccines and they will not be available in the private markets. Poonawalla said in an interview with a television channel he was hopeful of being able to sell Covishield in the private market once the first phase of vaccinating frontline health workers was completed, in about two months. The vaccine will cost Rs 1,000 per dose in the private market.
The delivery of the first batch of vaccines will be completed by Thursday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said. “Healthcare workers (approximately one crore) will be on the top priority, followed by frontline workers (approximately 2 crore) and prioritised age groups (approximately 27 crore). The cost of vaccinating healthcare workers and frontline workers will be borne by the central government,” he added. As of Tuesday, India has reported nearly 10.5 million infections and 151,000 deaths.