As government plans to start distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across India in the coming weeks, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Thursday said it is fully geared to deploy its resources to facilitate transportation of the vaccine from Pune airport. As much as 2 crore ''Covishield'' vaccine, manufactured at city-based Serum Institute of India (SII), are scheduled to be dispatched to various locations in the country from the Pune airport.
The AAI said along with its subsidiary AAI Cargo Logistics & Allied Services Company Ltd (AAICLAS), it was ready for the transportation of the vaccine.
The AAI in a tweet said that Pune airport operates 40 flights to 15 destination across the country on daily basis and also handles 150 tonnes of 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.
The announcement came after a meeting of all stakeholders, including SII, AAI and the Indian Air Force (IAF), was held on Wednesday to discuss the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for transportation of vaccine from the Pune airport to various destinations.
On the other side, SII, which has been granted emergency use authorisation (EAU) for Oxford- AstraZeneca's ''Covishield'' for restricted emergency use in the country, is busy labeling and packing the vaccine. Two crore shots are being packed and labeled and kept ready for transportation to other part of the country.
Rajendra Suthar, Additional Director at SII, said that the state of the art machinery has been geared up at packaging plant, which is operating in three shifts. The SII has 6 crore of Covishield doses filled and stored in its cold storage.
A total of 1.20 lakh doses are further packed in one carton with ice packs so as to maintain the vaccine temperature of 2 to 8 degree, Suthar 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.