Covid-19 vaccines reaching all centres across India, earlier 4,895 vaccination spots were chosen in country
From Goa to Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir to down south Kerala, the vaccines against Covid-19 are being ferried to far corners of the country for the vaccination drive that will be launched on Saturday even as the Government on Wednesday reduced the number of inoculation sites to almost half from previous target of 4,895, citing technical reasons.
It means, coronavirus vaccine will be administered in fewer sites than originally decided, at least for the first few days with fewer people getting vaccinated. Earlier, the vaccination was scheduled to take place through Government hospitals — there was to be 4,895 sites across the country.
Sources said that the number has been slashed to almost half. For instance, in Punjab, the number of these sites has been reduced from 110 to 59 for the opening day while Assam has been asked to reduce the number of sites from 74 to 59, sources said. Required cold supply chain has been one of the challenges for the delivery system, especially in the rural areas.
“The Centre asked us to reduce the vaccine centres. Now we have reduced it from 511 to 350. The Centre said, ‘Don’t be in haste,” Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told the media. In Mumbai, the number of sites has been reduced from 72 to 50. The numbers have been slashed in Pune also, now vaccination will take place only in 39 sites.
The authorities are hoping to finish the vaccination of 30 crore people belonging to high-risk groups within six months to achieve a critical mass of vaccinated people with around 3 crore health workers and corona warriors to get the shots in the first phase beginning January 13.
On their part, Serum Institute of India has moved about 56 lakh doses of Covishield to 13 cities. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech said it had successfully transported the indigenous Covaxin, developed in collaboration with the ICMR and the National Institute of Virology, to 11 cities. It said it has donated 16.5 lakh doses to the Centre.
“After having received the Government purchase order for 55 lakh doses, the company shipped the first batch of vaccines (each vial containing 20 doses),” Bharat Biotech said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the vaccine was sent to Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai and Lucknow.
As the vials began reaching their destinations, in readiness for the pan-India vaccination drive that will be launched on Saturday, States firmed up their plans and fine-tuned logistical details.
In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his AAP Government will provide the vaccine free if the Centre fails to do so. He said he has already appealed to the Centre as there are many people in the country who can’t afford the life-saving jab. In accordance with the national priority list, the Covid-19 vaccines will be given first to healthcare and frontline workers.
The first consignment of about 94,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine reached Bhopal on a scheduled flight from Mumbai, a State Government official said.
From the airport, insulated vans of the health department transported the boxes —which signals India entering a decisive phase in its fight against the pandemic — to the State vaccine centre where Medical Education Minister Visvas Sarang inspected the arrangements. The doses will be dispatched to eight districts from Bhopal.
Kerala, too, received its first Covishield vaccine consignment on Wednesday morning on a Go Air flight that landed at Kochi. Sources in the National Health Mission said of the 4.33 lakh doses of the vaccine, 1,100 will be sent to Mahe, an enclave of Puducherry.
The vaccine will be stored in the regional vaccine centres at Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode from where it will be distributed to 133 centres. Giving details of the vaccination plans for Maharashtra, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the State had already received 9.83 lakh doses of the total requirement of 17.5 lakh for the first phase.
Of these, 9.63 lakh vials were from SII and 20,000 from Bharat Biotech, the State Minister told reporters.
The Northeast State of Assam received its second consignment of 12,000 doses of Covaxin. SpiceJet said it had transported 3.5 tonnes of Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to 11 cities.
“On January 13, 2021, SpiceJet shipped 111 boxes of Covid-19 vaccine, weighing 3.5 tonnes from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to 11 cities including Bagdogra, Dehradun, Srinagar, Jammu, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Jabalpur, Ranchi, Rajkot, Delhi and Bengaluru,” the airline said in a statement.
GoAir said it will airlift a total of 69,600 vials of the vaccine. The budget carrier also moved 2,400 vials (24,000 doses) of Covishield to Goa from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).