New Delhi/Pune: The jab of hope will roll out of the Serum Institute’s Pune facility at 4.30 am on Tuesday (today) and shipped to 60 consignee points from where it would be distributed to various vaccination centres across the country. The Maharashtra government has provided special security to the trucks carrying the vaccine up to airports and to the borders of the state.
The immediate rollout was a foregone conclusion once the vaccine pricing was settled. As per the agreement between the government and the Serum institute, the first 100 million doses of the Oxford shot will be priced at Rs 200 per vial, inclusive of taxes and 14 % GST, which makes it the more cost-effective in the world.
The heart-warming news came with PM Modi underscoring that politicians should not jump the queue to take the vaccine but wait for their turn. The warning came after the Haryana government requested that public representatives like MPs and MLAs be included in the initial phase of the inoculation exercise. Bihar and Odisha, in turn, had demanded that public representatives from panchayats and Parliament be considered frontline workers and be vaccinated first.
As intimated earlier, the process of administering the vaccine will start on Saturday, as part of the "world's largest vaccination program." First, the corona warriors will be vaccinated, followed by front line workers. ‘‘Sanitation workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces will also be vaccinated in the first phase," PM Modi said during his interface with the chief ministers of all states on Monday.
In the second phase, next in line for vaccination would be persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities
The Centre has also asked states not to buy vaccines directly and make all purchases through the Union government. Media sources said HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, will be procuring the vials on behalf of the government. Eleven million doses will be supplied to the government in the initial tranche.
Serum, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines, has stockpiled 50 million doses for immediate distribution. There are no pricing details of the second dose. Incidentally, Serum chief executive Adar Poonawalla had indicated that the vaccine would be priced at about Rs 1,000 per shot in the private market once the government gives clearance.
"We are now in a decisive stage and from January 16, we are starting world's largest vaccination drive. Two vaccines have got emergency use approval and four more [vaccines] are in the process. For the second phase, probably we will have more vaccines," PM Modi said in the meeting with the chief ministers
Incidentally, the Russian made Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V has met the primary endpoint of safety in the phase-2 clinical trials in India and has been recommended for clinical trials without any modifications, according to an official statement.
Media sources quoted Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik as saying that PM Modi should get vaccinated first, so that doubts and misgivings are "done away with".
"Covid-19 vaccination is about to begin. Still, there are doubts among people regarding vaccines. We want PM Modi to begin this initiative by getting vaccinated himself, so that doubts are done away with, trust is built and the PM creates history," Malik said.
The Indian Medical Association on Monday requested its 3.5 lakh members to voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine to show to the world that these shots are safe and efficacious.