The cold storage network in the country is likely to reach 37,000 as states and Union territories are expected to raise at least 8,000 more cold chain points in the coming months as the country moves ahead with preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) told IANS.
Currently, around 29,000 cold chain points are being drawing up for the mega COVID immunisation drive.
The member told IANS that the government had asked all states and UTs about the addition they would make to the existing network of cold chain storage units. “They informed us that provision for up to 8,000 cold chain points would be made by them in the coming months,” the member said.
“We are expecting each state and UT to add at least 200 cold storage units to the existing infrastructure. However, the figure may go up as well,” he added.
The member also said that the expected addition of the cold chain points would be decked at Primary Health Centres (PHCs). “District hospitals and community health centres already have the infrastructure to store vaccines. Many high load PHCs also keep cold storage equipment. We are aiming to extend the infrastructure further to those PHCs which are not under the ambit of storing vaccines for universal immunisation programme,” he said.
However, not all the PHCs will double up as cold chain points. The decision is left to the respective states and territories, the member informed further.
The Union Health Ministry had said on Tuesday that 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators will be used for the Covid-19 vaccine storage. It also informed that all 36 states and UTs have concluded meetings of State Steering Committees and State Task Forces. Meanwhile, 633 districts have concluded meetings of the District Task Forces, as directed by the Centre earlier.
Furthermore, training modules for medical officers, vaccinator officers, alternative vaccinator officers, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA coordinators etc are also finalised. Their physical training as well as training on online platforms have started. Workshops for Training of Trainers (ToTs) of states and Centre have also been completed.
As per the guidelines issued by the Centre for the COVID-19 inoculation drive, 100-200 people would be administered the vaccine in each session per day. They will be monitored for 30 minutes after administering the shots for any adverse event. As many as nine vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are under different stages of clinical trials which could be ready for authorisation in the near future.
The vaccines include AstraZeneca and Oxford University-developed and Serum Institute of India-manufactured Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Limited, ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik-V, NVX-CoV2373 by SII, HGCO19 by Geneva, and two unlabelled vaccines – Recombinant Protein Antigen-based vaccine by Biological E Limited and Inactivated rabies vector platform by Bharat Biotech.
The latest addition to the flock is Gennova Pharmaceuticals-developed indegenous mRNA vaccine candidate (HGCO19). It received approval for human clinical trials on December 9.