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Precious cargo! 3 trucks carrying Covishield vaccine leave Pune’s Serum Institute, hours after govt seals deal

The first consignment of Covishield vaccines left the Serum Institute of India premises in Pune in the wee hours on Tuesday ahead of the January 16 nationwide inoculation drive launch, marking a decisive phase in the fight against coronavirus.

UPDATED: January 12, 2021 06:16 IST

Four days before India begins the mass exercise of vaccinating 30 crore people against Covid-19, three trucks from Pune’s Serum Institute left with the first consignment of the Covishield vaccine in the early hours of Tuesday.

All three trucks containing the vaccine are temperature-controlled and were on their way to the Pune airport, where a special cargo plane is waiting to transport them across India.

The trucks left the Serum Institute premises shortly after 5 am on Tuesday. A ‘puja’ was performed before the vehicles left the facility.

Speaking about the dispatch, DCP (Zone 5) Pune, Namrata Patil said, “The first consignment of the vaccine has been dispatched from the facility of Serum Institute of India here. We have made elaborate security arrangements.”

From the Pune airport, the vaccine will be flown to 13 locations including Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata. Chennai, Bengaluru, Karnal, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guwahati, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar.

The trucks carried 478 boxes of the vaccines and each box weighs 32 kg. The cargo will be dispatched to these locations by 10 am.

In the coming days, five other containers will travel to three states taking the Covishield vaccine to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

The specialised trucks being deployed to transport the vaccine belong to Kool-ex Cold Chain Ltd.

The government on Monday placed firm orders in advanced commitments for over 1.1 crore doses of Covid vaccine from the Serum Institute for inoculating 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase of the vaccination drive scheduled to start from January 16.

Each dose of Covishield will cost Rs 210. As the government has committed to buy 4.5 crore doses by April, the total cost of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the government of India will be over Rs 1,100 crore.

It also placed an order of vaccines from Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

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