India: First flight ferrying Covid19 vaccines departs from Pune

COVID Vaccine, Jan 12: The first flight ferrying Covid19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) departed from Pune to Delhi.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today tweeted that “Today @airindiain @flyspicejet @goairlinesindia & @IndiGo6E will operate 9 flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow & Chandigarh.”

Spicejet’s flight SG 8937 is ferrying the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccines to Delhi. At least a dozen flights are scheduled to depart with doses of the vaccine on Tuesday.

The first consignment to Delhi comprises 34 boxes weighing 1,088kg.

I am happy to share that SpiceJet has carried India’s first consignment of Covid vaccine today. The first consignment of Covishield consisting of 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg was carried from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight 8937. We will be carrying multiple vaccine consignments to different Indian cities, including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada, through the day today. SpiceJet is fully committed and prepared to transport the Covid vaccine both within and outside India. Today marks the beginning of a long and decisive phase in India’s fight against the pandemic and SpiceJet is proud to assist in the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind,” said SpiceJet chairman and managing director, Ajay Singh in media.

The first doses of the Covishield vaccine were sent via three trucks from SII’s Pune campus early Tuesday morning for Lohegaon Airport.

The Centre will start vaccinating frontline workers against coronavirus disease from January 16. The Centre will bear the entire cost of vaccinating 30 million health care and frontline workers — employees across government departments, the police and civic bodies — at the start of the world’s biggest immunisation drive against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

The Centre, last Friday, had issued guidelines for the packaging and transportation of the Covid-19 vaccines by air, directing airlines and airport authorities to ensure the vaccines are packaged in dry ice and refrigerated material in a bid to maintain low temperatures ranging between -8° C to -70° C essential for its transportation.

The guidelines issued by the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated that all scheduled operators, which are currently authorised to carry dangerous goods, may carry Covid-19 vaccines packed in dry ice, meeting regulatory requirements.

Elaborating on the need to package the vaccines with dry ice, the DGCA noted that the temperature maintenance requirement for Covid19 vaccines in India are reported to be varying from -8°C to -70°C and hence, the use of refrigerant material during transportation becomes essential.

Though there may be different refrigerant options, the use of dry ice (Carbon Dioxide Solid) is the most commonly used, affordable and readily available refrigerant material available in the country for transportation of perishables by air. Dry ice continually sublimates (Dry ice that is solid, transforms into Carbon Dioxide gas (COz)) at temperatures higher than -78°C (-108.4°F) under normal atmospheric pressure. At reduced pressures, the sublimation rate of dry ice will increase while all other factors being the same,” it noted.


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