With the much-anticipated vaccination drive to combat Covid-19 on the anvil, domestic airlines on Tuesday have started transporting doses of the vaccine to cities across the country.
Flights across airlines would carry a total of 56.5 lakh doses to several cities during the day from Pune. The first two flights of carrying vaccines have already departed from Pune to Delhi and Chennai.
Taking to Twitter, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said: “Civil aviation sector launches yet another momentous mission. Vaccine movement starts. First two flights operated by @flyspicejet & @goairlinesindia from Pune to Delhi & Chennai have taken off.”
In another tweet, Puri said that Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo will operate nine flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
Ajay Singh, the Chairman of SpiceJet, tweeted: “Proud to say that @flyspicejet carried India’s first consignment of COVID vaccines from Pune to Delhi this morning.”
The Union Health Ministry on Saturday said that the much-awaited coronavirus vaccination drive will kick off on January 16.
The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine will give priority to the healthcare and frontline workers who are estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with comorbidities numbering around 27 crore.
On January 3, two vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India – were approved for restricted emergency use.
The vaccine approval process has been marred with controversies after Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was approved for emergency use without the phase-3 trials.
The total tally of Covid-positive cases in India have scaled up to over 1.04 crore cases and death toll stands at over 1.51 lakh, as per Health Ministry data.