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The first consignment of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech's homegrown vaccine, is en route to Delhi and 10 other cities after leaving Hyderabad early this morning, a day after Serum Institute of India rolled out its vaccine against Covid-19.
The vaccine movement comes ahead of the national inoculation drive set for January 16, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed as the "world's biggest" vaccination programme.
The first batches were flown to the national capital by Air India, and reportedly included three boxes weighing 80.5 kgs, according to ANI. The vaccines are also being sent to Bengaluru, Chennai, Patna, Jaipur and Lucknow, officials said.
"The first consignment of vaccine from Bharat Biotech is being carried by Air India on AI 559 from Hyderabad to Delhi on Wednesday at 0640 hours," an official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Health Ministry has ordered 55 lakh doses of Covaxin and 1.1 crore doses of Covishied, the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute. The two vaccines were approved by India's drug regulation for emergency use earlier this month.
The centre has received 54,72,000 doses of vaccines against the coronavirus so far, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. "100 per cent doses to be received by January 14 in all states/UTs," it added.
The Hyderabad-based vaccine-maker will roll out 14 consignments from its factory today, they added.
Bharat Biotech has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research to produce the indigenous vaccine and will provide 16.5 lakh doses to the centre for free. The other 38.5 lakh vials are being procured by the centre at Rs. 295 per dose.
According to the Covid-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.
Both Covishield and Covaxin are two-dose vaccines and will have to be administered at a gap of 28 days.
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