A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process on Tuesday with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across the country.
The city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) is set to commence its first domestic distribution of Covishield vaccine consignment from Wednesday, the private airport operator said. Mumbai airport is looking to cater to at least 16 destinations in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process on Tuesday with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across the country, four days before the vaccinations are scheduled to begin on January 16.
“Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) will begin with its first domestic distribution of the Covishield vaccine consignment from early morning tomorrow and cater to a minimum of 16 destinations,” the airport operator said in a statement. Covishield has been developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca. It is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in the country.
Mumbai airport, being the “largest pharma hub”, is well-positioned to distribute vaccines across borders and support, maintain and optimise pharma-dedicated corridors globally, it said. In late November last year, CSMIA had said it will provide flexible slot allocation for ad hoc freighter operations for transportation of COVID-19 vaccines. A slot is a date and time at which an aircraft is permitted to depart from or arrive at an airport.
The CSMIA will provide “round the clock green channel with dedicated truck docks, X-Ray machine, ULD (unit load device) buildup workstation” and key account managers will be deployed for “round the clock monitoring of vaccine operations”, it had said at that time.
Earlier on Tuesday, the first consignment of the vaccines rolled out from SII’s facility in Pune and reached Delhi a few hours later. In a tweet stating that “The vaccine movement has started”, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said four airlines will operate nine flights to transport 56.5 lakh doses of the vaccine from Pune to 13 cities across the country on Tuesday.