Thu, 21 Jan 2021

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], January 12 (ANI): After the first consignment containing vials of coronavirus vaccine "Covishield" were dispatched from the Pune factory, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India on Tuesday termed it a historic moment and said the main challenge is to make the vaccine available to everyone in the country.

"This is a historical moment that vaccine is being dispatched from our factory. Our main challenge is to make it available to everyone in the country. It is our challenge for 2021, let us see how it happens," Poonawalla told ANI.

"We have given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to the Government of India on their request, because we want to support common man, vulnerable, poor and healthcare workers. After that, we will be selling it at Rs 1,000 in private markets," he said.

The SII CEO informed that the government has not given its nod regarding selling the vaccine in the private market.

"In the private market, for those who want to purchase the vaccine, the price would be Rs 1,000. But we have not received permission for this...," he said.

Poonawalla said a lot of countries have been writing to India and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for vaccines to be supplied from Serum Institute to their countries.

"We are trying to keep everyone happy. We have to take care of our population and nation as well. We are trying to supply vaccine to Africa, South America. So we are doing a little bit everywhere. So we will try to keep everyone happy," he said.

The first consignment containing vials of the Covishield vaccine was dispatched from the Serum Institute of India here in the early hours of Tuesday, ahead of the January 16 launch of the nationwide vaccination drive.

Amid tight security, three trucks carrying the very first consignment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine left for Pune airport to be flown to 13 locations across the country today.

The locations include Delhi, Karnal, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubhaneshwar, Kolkata and Guwahati.

Pune-based logistic firm Kool-ex Cold Chain tasked with ferrying the vaccine stocks via tech-enabled trucks laced with temperature control feature ranging from -25 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius.

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country is starting from January 16. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said "We aim to vaccinate 30 crore people in the next few months."Around 3 crore healthcare workers and frontline workers will be vaccinated in the first phase of vaccination, he added. In the second phase, those above 50 years and those under 50 years with co-morbid conditions will be vaccinated, he further said. (ANI)

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