First batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Northeast

“36,000 doses for Meghalaya; 204,000 doses for Assam”

GUWAHATI: The wait for the COVID vaccine is finally over!

The first batch of the vaccine arrived in the Northeast by a Kolkata-Guwahati cargo flight, touching down on the tarmac of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport at Borjhar here on Tuesday evening.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) sources here informed that 20 boxes of the vaccine, each containing 12,000 doses, were brought here from Pune via Kolkata by SpiceJet (SG 7715) freighter aircraft which landed at 4.58pm.

“Twenty boxes (weighing 730kg) containing close to 2, 40,000 doses of the vaccine were ferried by the freighter aircraft to the LGBI Airport, of which 17 are for Assam and three for Meghalaya,” an AAI source informed The Shillong Times here.

The cargo boxes were received by the AAI cargo wing, Airports Authority of India Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Ltd (AAICLAS), at the domestic cargo complex of the airport.

The boxes were subsequently handed over to the respective state health departments for distribution.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune had early Tuesday morning dispatched the first consignment of the Covishield vaccine for distribution across various locations in the country

Reportedly, eight flights were scheduled to dispatch the Covishield vaccines from Pune International Airport to 13 different locations.

Speaking to reporters here, M. Suresh, regional executive director, AAI, Northeast region said, “We are very much equipped to transport the COVID vaccine to different parts of the Northeast region.”

“The LGBI Airport has been marked as the nodal point of distribution of the COVID vaccine for the Northeast, and we will fully cooperate with the agencies in timely distribution of the vaccine through air cargo,” Suresh said.

The cargo complex at the airport has made all possible arrangements for smooth dispersal of vaccines across destinations. Cold storages, dedicated pick-up points, help desks, exchange points, entry-exit and sanitisation areas are some of them.

“Our cargo wing at Guwahati has geared up infrastructure and has marked pick-up points for effective and smooth flow of the consignment,” he added.

LGBI Airport director Ramesh Kumar said the arrival of the first batch of the COVID vaccine at the airport was a proud moment for AAI Guwahati.

“It is always a pleasure to be a part of such an important task for the country. We are hopeful that AAI in coordination with our stakeholders and partners will effectively deliver the vaccines to all state governments,” Kumar said.

Officials from the state health department, CISF, airline staff, state traffic police and cold storage chain members among other representatives were present at the airport to receive the vaccine boxes.

According to reports, the central government had placed a purchase order with the Pune-based institute for 11 million doses of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, at a cost of Rs 210 per dose.

Covishield has been developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Pune-based institute.

Meanwhile, the Assam health department is all geared up to start the vaccination process with 1.5 lakh frontline healthcare, ASHA and Anganwadi workers as the first beneficiaries.

The state, for its part, is leaving no stone unturned to prevent any hiccups during the process. Already, dry runs for COVID-19 vaccination have been underway across the state over the past few weeks.

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