Bharat Biotech said on Wednesday that it has successfully air-shipped its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin to 11 cities in India in the early hours and that it has donated 16.5 lakh doses to the Union government. The company also expressed its deepest gratitude to the nation, all clinical trial volunteers and its partners for making this a successful and milestone public-private partnership for the development of India's first COVID19- vaccine, a press release said.
After having received the government purchase order for 55 lakh doses, Bharat Biotech shipped the first batch of vaccines (each vial containing 20 doses) to Gannavaram (Vijayawada), Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai and Lucknow.
Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated two-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, manufactured in a Vero cell manufacturing platform with an excellent safety track record of more than 300 million doses, the release said. It is India's indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology.
The inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) biocontainment facility, one of its kind in the world.
Meanwhile, a massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process on Tuesday with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine flown to 13 cities across India from Pune and taken to designated national and state-level stores amid tight security.
With the vaccinations scheduled to begin on January 16 starting with healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase, the Union government said all the vaccine vials, which included 1.1 crore of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India and 55 lakh of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech, will be received by January 14.
Announcing the start of the vaccine movement, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter that four airlines were operating nine flights to transport 56.5 lakh doses of the vaccine from Pune to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.