A cold chain logistics service provider on Saturday said it was all set to transport COVID-19 vaccine doses from factories, and the Maharashtra government has ordered police protection for its trucks.
India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16.
Kool-Ex Cold Chain Ltd's co-founder Rahul Agarwal told PTI that his firm is the lead vendor for Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech and another vaccine- making firms.
"We are the lead vendor for the movement of the vaccine from factories to 48 primary government locations (depots) in the first leg," he said.
He said the Maharashtra government has issued an order to provide police security to vaccine-carrying trucks, be it from the factory to the airport or from the factory to an adjoining state by road.
The company representatives met officials of the Maharashtra home department on Friday and also Pune police officials on Saturday to discuss the security cover for the trucks.
Confirming the development, Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, "We had a meeting with them. We told them that since trucks would start their journey from Pune (where SII is based), a security cover would be given for the initial period."
Agarwal said his firm has been told that the first consignments will be met in the states by respective chief ministers or health ministers.
"It is a high profile matter, so the state government thought that since Maharashtra is the first producer of the vaccine, there should not be any untoward incident during the transportation of the vaccine," Agarwal said.
"As the government wanted to streamline the convoy system for the trucks carrying vaccines, they asked us to go and meet CP, Pune, Superintendent of Police, Pune rural and Pimpri Chinchwad police commissioner and coordinate," he said.
During the meetings with Pune police, it was decided that one nodal officer and one control point will be in place for monitoring the trucks, he said.
There will be security cover for 10-15 days while the trucks move from the factory to the airport or to other states by road, Agarwal said.
Around 300 GPS-equipped trucks will be used and an additional 500 trucks will be ready, he said.
"However, I don't think we would need that many trucks as the entire vaccination process will be staggered over next one to two years," he added.