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Centre signs purchase order for 11 mn Covishield doses, transportation begins today

After days of speculation, Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) finally received the official purchase order on Monday from the government of India for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, named Covishield
By Steffy Thevar and Shalaka Shinde, Pune
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 02:31 PM IST

After days of speculation, Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) finally received the official purchase order on Monday from the government of India for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, named Covishield.

According to a senior SII official who requested not to be named, the order placed by the Central government is of 11 million doses for the initial period of vaccination.

With the purchase order in place, the first consignment of vaccine doses will leave Serum’s Manjari campus to the state government-owned National Cold Chain Resource Centre at Raja Bahadur Mill road in the city as well as to other cities on Tuesday.

The first truck carrying the vials is set to depart from the institute at 4:30am in the morning, according to Serum institute spokesperson.

The transportation of vaccines will be carried out by air as well as road in the trucks owned by private logistics firm Koolex Integrated Cold Chain Solutions with two-tier security by Pune police.

The vaccine was recently approved for restricted emergency use by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). The first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination will kick start in the country from January 16 for healthcare workers.

“The government purchase order is for 11 million doses and we currently have close to 100 million doses. Also, the cost has been finalised at 210 including the GST of 10 per dose. Mainly, the four locations where depots are located include Delhi, Mumbai, Karnal in Haryana and one in the south where vaccine doses will be taken initially. Also, the government has given us an indication that vaccine doses will be taken to 54 different locations apart from these four main locations,” said the SII official.

The transport will be done through road and by flights, according to Koolex executives.

The road transport would probably be for locations which could be covered within 12-15 hours, and for cities with longer distance, air mode will be used. But we will wait yet as the government has also made some arrangements with the transporter in Mumbai.

“We will try to send it directly from here to where flights are available but where it is not possible, we will send it through cold vans. The purchase order was finalized at 3pm on Monday and so the transportation will probably begin to other cities on Tuesday morning. With the purchase order in place, we have started distribution of vaccines and we already have our own office at the Pune airport for regular vaccine movement. These vaccines will be sent both by commercial cargo flights or even passenger flights if they have space. We will pack the boxes with cold ice packs which can keep the vaccines safe for a few hours,” said the SII official.

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