Friday, January 08, 2021

Vaccine dispatch from Pune airport awaits govt-SII pact

Pune/Nagpur: The Pune airport is all set to dispatch the consignments of the Covishield vaccine, but its manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, is still awaiting an official order from the Union government.

The Pune firm manufacturing the (Oxford-AstraZeneca) vaccine has said it is committed to meeting the Indian requirements on a priority before catering to the international demand.

SII’s executive director Dr Suresh Jadhav said, “We have been told verbally several times, but no official order has been placed by the government authorities yet. We have 50 million doses ready and can deliver it the day we receive the order.”

Dr Jadhav, who hails from Nagpur, said the company already had big orders from seven institutions across the world, but “it had not committed on these yet as SII was committed to fulfilling the Indian order on priority basis”.

Another senior officer of the SII, too, confirmed that the vaccine transportation had been held up for the want of an official order.

While the first consignment of vaccines was expected to be dispatched from the Pune airport on Thursday, the officials from two airlines and the airport, who refused to be quoted, said they had again been told to be prepared on Friday.

Pune airport director Kuldeep Singh confirmed that the airport did not receive any consignments of the vaccine on Thursday. “We are all prepared and fully ready for the transportation process,” Singh said, refraining from making any more comments.

Earlier on Thursday, the Airports Authority of India said the Pune airport was “fully ready and capable of contributing airport resources for the transportation of the Covid-19 vaccine”.

“Everyday, Pune @aaipunairport operates 40 flights to 15 destinations across the country. The airport handles 150-tonne cargo daily. #AAI & @AAICLAS_in are fully ready and capable of contributing airport resources for transportation of #COVID19 vaccine in the national interest,” it said on its official Twitter handle.

08/01/21 Joy Sengupta/Chaitanya Deshpande/Times of India

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