Covid-19 vaccine: Govt chalks out plan for storage
With several experimental vaccines against Covid-19 reaching late-stage trials in the country, the government has started making logistical arrangements for procurement, storage and distribution to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of a vaccine, when one becomes available
To create hubs for vaccine storage, the Centre has begun identifying both government and private facilities.
“The focus is on maintaining cold storage as most vaccines require to be stored and distributed at a fixed temperature, failing which the vaccine becomes ineffective,” an official said.
Under the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 that is chaired by Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, there are subgroups looking into various aspects of vaccine development, procurement and distribution, including one that looks at cold chain requirements.
Rajesh Bhushan, Union health secretary said, “The subgroup has already mapped the existing cold chain that is presently being utilized under the immunisation programme of the government, and it has also made a projection of the additionality that will be required. Presently, that group is engaged with mapping the private sector facilities where with minor modifications they could be converted to serve the needs of supplementing the cold chain equipment. So, that is how things are currently developing.”
Real-time tracking of vaccine movement- from procurement to storage, to delivery and distribution is being planned using the electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) that is used for the immunisation programme. This cloud-based application can track real-time stock positioning and supply route based on the information fed by ground staff.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan recently announced that the government was looking at procuring and utilizing about 400-500 million vaccine doses, covering about 200-250 million people.
According to health officials, India has about 27,000 vaccine storage centres across all 700 plus districts that are connected through eVIN; with at least 50,000 temperature loggers to monitor storage temperatures as accurately as possible for at least 40,000 frontline workers to manage logistics.