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Before Second Nationwide Dry Run of Vaccination, 'Covishield' Shots Reach Delhi from Pune

Vials with a sticker reading,

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of an AstraZeneca logo. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

Flight no AI-850 from Pune to Delhi will carry the first the consignment of the vaccines to the national capital, an official said.

The first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine 'Covishield' will land in Delhi at 9pm on Thursday. This comes a day ahead of second nationwide mock drill on the coronavirus vaccination scheduled to be held on January 8.

Flight no AI-850 from Pune to Delhi will carry the first the consignment of the vaccines to the national capital, an official said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier on Thursday ought keen oversight and personal indulgence of health ministers, principal secretaries and additional chief secretaries of states and union territories to lead the vaccine dry run.

The Covishield jab, which is developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University and manufactured locally by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, is administered in two doses given between four and 12 weeks apart. It can be safely stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C, about the same as a domestic fridge, and can be delivered in existing health care settings such as doctors' surgeries.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Thursday said along with its subsidiary AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Ltd (AAICLAS), it was ready for transport vaccine. A meeting of all stakeholders, including SII, AAI and the Indian Air Force (IAF), was held to discuss the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for transportation of vaccine from the Pune airport to various destinations.

The AAI-operated airport at Lohegaon shares the runway with the IAF. "Everyday, Pune @aaipunairport operates 40 flights to 15 destinations across the country. The airport handles 150- tonne cargo daily.

"#AAI & @AAICLAS_in are fully ready and capable of contributing airport resources for transportation of COVID-19 vaccine in the national interest," the AAI tweeted. When contacted Kuldip Singh, director, Pune airport, said the purpose of the Wednesday's meeting was to assess the aerodrome's capability and readiness to handle vaccine cargo.

"We are capable of handling the cargo," he said. The Union health ministry has informed states and union territories that they are likely to receive the first supply of COVID-19 vaccine shortly and asked them to remain prepared to accept these consignments.

In a communique in New Delhi, the ministry said vaccine will be supplied to the identified consignee points of 19 states and union territories. India's drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford- AstraZeneca's 'Covishield', manufactured by SII, and home- grown Covaxin of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.

Maharashtra, Kerala and Chhattisgarh have seen a sudden spike in coronavirus cases recently, sending out a warning that one shouldn't forget precautions and continue the fight against Covid-19.


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