Pushing ahead its vaccine rollout on January 16, the Centre has officially placed a purchase order of 11 million doses with Serum Institute India for its Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine- COVISHIELD on Monday. Reports had stated that the delay over the order was due to the Centre's negotiation with SII to lower the price of each vaccine shot. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is priced at Rs 200 per shot and with GST of Rs 10, it would cost Rs 210, stated SII which has already stockpiled 50 million doses for India. Dispatch of the vaccine is likely to start by late Monday evening, they said.
The Pune-based SII, will send its vaccines via air transport to the Centre-run primary vaccine stores (GMSD depots) at four locations in India - Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. From these depots, the vaccines will be transported to 37 state vaccine stores across the country in insulated vans or refrigerated vans. Then, the vaccines will then be sent to district vaccine stores by the respective state or union territory and further transported to primary health centres to innoculate beneficiaries. At present, there are a total of 29,000 cold chain points across India and Centre has registered 75 lakh beneficiaries on its Co-WIN app - which is mandatory for innoculation.
Koolex Cold Chain Limited, a Mumbai-based pharma supply chain company - will roll out 300 reefer trucks with COVISHIELD vials on Monday. Speaking to Republic TV, Koolex Cold Chain's Managing Director Rahul Subhash Agarwal informed that they are planning to move 2 to 3 consignments of the vaccine to various destination points across the country, as soon as details of the destinations were given to them. Rahul Agarwal said, "There are 40-50 primary locations across India where the COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered by various modes of transport".
On Sunday, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) VG Somani announced that the vaccines of Serum Institue of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) have been granted permission for restricted use in an emergency situation. Covishield - a Recombinant Chimpanzee Adenovirus vector vaccine - has an efficacy of 70.42%, with interim safety and immunogenicity data of Phase-II/III trials submitted to the SEC. UK has already begun inoculating people with COVISHIELD in the past week.
ICMR chief Dr. Balram Bhargava explained, "In Covaxin - We have data on animal trials in India showing excellent response in terms of safety, immunogenicity. The phase-1 and phase-2 results on 265 and 380 participants - aged 18 to 55 & age 12 to 65 showed very low adverse events, strong response to all structural proteins including spike. Phase 3 clinical trials with 25,800 participants - 24,000 have been enrolled and there have been no safety concerns, with the first dose given to them."