India is all set for the rollout of the much-awaited coronavirus vaccine from January 16, 2020. Several states across the length and breadth of the country confirmed their readiness for the first phase of what is likely to be one of the world’s largest inoculation exercises.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet all the Chief Ministers of the states via video conference and address them on the vaccination drive. This will be his first address to the ministers following the emergency approval of the vaccines, developed by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.
As part of the preparation exercise, the identification of the vaccination sites, logistical requirements and the registration of the healthcare & frontline workers involved in the vaccination have been completed thus far.
“With all likelihood, there are possibilities that the transportation of the Covishield vaccine will start from Monday. Tentatively, there are plans to start the movement of the vaccine on Monday, but if that does not happen for some reasons, it will definitely start from Tuesday morning,” said a source involved with the planning for security and logistics for transportation of the vaccine.
According to the PTI, transportation of Covishield – the vaccine developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the University of Oxford and British-Swedish drug-maker AstraZeneca, will commence from the evening of January 11. About 300 GPS-fitted trucks are likely to be involved in the transportation, and the number could rise to 500, if the necessity arises.
“A cold chain logistics service provider – Kool-Ex Cold Chain Ltd is the lead vendor for the movement of the vaccine from the SII factory to 48 primary government locations (depots) in the first leg,” said the company’s co-founder Rahul Agarwal.
Underlining the importance of the logistics and storage in the initial phase of the inoculation drive, each of the vials opened will have to be either used or discarded within four hours of opening. Each of the vials contains about 10 doses of the vaccine, and the expediency of use is given the lack of vaccine vial monitors. This lack of vaccine vial monitors is attributable to the waiver given by the government to the open vial policy – which allows for the storage & usage of vaccines for a much longer duration.
“As there will be no VVMs and expiry date on the vial of the vaccine that will be supplied, cold storage chain maintenance will be of prime importance. Open vial policy will not be applicable and therefore the vaccination officer should mark the date & time of opening the vial, all open vial needs to be discarded after four hours of opening or at the end of the session,” outlined a Health Ministry guideline for the vaccination.