The first consignment of Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine made by Serum Institute of India, left for Delhi and other Indian cities from the institute's Pune facility today.
The consignment left from the manufacturer four days before India starts inoculating its priority group of people against the virus, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The temperature-controlled trucks carrying vaccines rolled out of the Serum Institute gates shortly before 5am and left for Pune airport.
The trucks carried 478 boxes of the vaccines, each box weighing 32 kg, a source involved in the vaccine transport arrangements said.
A SpiceJet flight carrying the vaccines left for the national capital at around 8am local time.
"Ready get set go! Stand by India! The vaccine to kill the disease is being loaded into the aircraft for distribution all over the country now," Pune airport tweeted.
Besides Delhi, the vaccines will be dispatched to 12 other locations across the country in seven more flights today including Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guwahati, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, the sources said.
The consignment for Mumbai, not far from Pune, will leave by road.
The Indian government on Monday placed orders and advanced commitments for nearly six crore doses of Covishield vaccines from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for inoculating three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase of the nationwide vaccination drive.
Interacting virtually with state chief ministers on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the enormity of what he called as the world's biggest vaccination exercise, saying over 30 crore citizens, including health staff and frontline workers, will get the jabs in the next few months in India in the first phase.