India's civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has issued guidelines to airlines and other aircraft operators for transportation of Covid-19 vaccines.
"All scheduled operators who have been currently authorized to carry dangerous goods may carry COVID19 vaccine packed in dry ice, meeting the regulatory requirements," DGCA said in a circular.
"Non-scheduled operators, including aircraft engaged in general aviation, that are required to participate in the carriage of COVID 19 vaccines packed in dry ice shall seek specific approval before commencing such operations," it added.
Covid-19 vaccination in India is expected to start in the next few days, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said yesterday, adding that the union government has requested the stakeholders in the process to help in its smooth rollout.
The DGCA circular said that while dry ice with temperature varying from -8C to -70C is affordable for transportation of vaccine, it added that all operators engaged in vaccine transportation would need to establish the maximum quantity of dry ice that can be loaded in cargo holds or passenger cabins if passenger aircraft is deployed for vaccine transportation.
The circular added that operators will need to prepare and 'Dos and Don'ts' guidance for handling of vaccines and such packages would be handled only by trained personnel.
India's drugs regulator Drugs Controller General of India has approved AstraZeneca and Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute in India under the Covishield brand and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.
As per DGCA directives, authorised airlines can carry vaccine in dry ice in passenger cabin or cargo cabin. Passengers won't be allowed on board if vaccines are being transported in the passenger cabin.