With the covid-19 vaccination drive expected to start next week, Indian airlines, among the worst-stricken by the pandemic, are gearing up to deliver millions of doses of the shots aimed at ending the pandemic.
A civil aviation ministry official said both Air India and private airlines are coordinating the logistics with the vaccine producers. Airlines will use their cargo facilities to distribute the vaccines, he said on condition of anonymity.
Spokespersons for Delhi and Hyderabad airports, both of which are operated by GMR Group, said they are ready to handle and distribute the covid-19 vaccines. Delhi airport, the nation’s largest cargo hub, has two terminals equipped with facilities to handle temperature-sensitive shipments.
According to the government’s distribution plan, manufacturers will first transport the vaccines to the four primary vaccine stores—at Karnal in Haryana, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai—and from there, it will be transported in bulk to the 37 state vaccine stores for further distribution to district vaccines stores.
“Each state has prepared its priority group list of healthcare and frontline workers and sent them to the Centre and requested for the number of doses they require. This will be the determining factor for the distribution of the vaccines,” said Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases division of Indian Council of Medical Research. Panda is also a member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), which is tasked with coming out with strategies for fair distribution of vaccines.
On Sunday, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin got emergency use authorization from Drugs Controller General of India V.G. Somani.
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