Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Hope takes wings: Covid vaccines begin flying out of Pune

New Delhi: "May all be free from disease." With this line printed on boxes, Serum Institute of India (SII) began transporting Covid vaccines from Pune to other parts of India on Tuesday morning.

A flight of SpiceJet and then of Air India left with this cargo of hope for Delhi and Ahmedabad, respectively.

Prime Minister Modi had recently announced that India will begin the world’s largest vaccination program on January 16.

The first flight saw the past and present of Indian aviation coming together to save the future with an ex-Jet Airways Boeing 737 operating for SpiceJet.

SpiceJet chairman and managing director (CMD) Ajay Singh said: “I am happy to share that SpiceJet has carried India’s first consignment of Covid vaccine today. The first consignment of Covishield consisting of 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg was carried from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight 8937. We will be carrying multiple vaccine consignments to different Indian cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada through the day today.”

The first flight reached Delhi at about 10 am.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Air India had said it is “all set to play a pivotal role in vaccination mission, carrying the first consignment of 2,76,000 vaccine doses weighing 700 kg approximately from Pune to Ahmedabad today.”

After receiving the first vaccine flight, Delhi airport VEO Videh Kumar Jaipuria said: “Delhi airport has been relentlessly working for timely and smooth supply of medical equipment and other relief material in and out of Delhi to various destinations in India in these Covid times."

"Today, we have received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine at our airport. Temperature-controlled facility, ranging from -20 Deg C to +25 Deg C, at our two Cargo terminals can efficiently and safely handle these temperature sensitive vaccines. We have Cool Chambers and Cool Dollies to maintain temperature required for these vaccines at the cargo terminal and during transit between aircraft and terminal or vice versa. Our both the terminals can handle around 5.7 million vials in a day," he added.

"DIAL had played crucial role in fight against Covid-19 by round-the-clock handling of international and domestic cargo movement during lockdown. The air cargo terminals at the IGI Airport operated 24x7 to support the country in handling and processing essential commodities, especially healthcare and medical supplies. We have synergized and collaborated with all the stakeholders including exporters, importers, logistics companies, freight forwarders/agents, government, airlines, cargo terminal operators, to ensure faster turnaround of the vaccines," Videh Kumar Jaipuriar added.

12/01/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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