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Covid-19: Cold chain logistics will be big challenge in vaccinating 135 crore Indians

“Prioritising the Covid vaccine for frontline workers would run the risk of allowing the coronavirus to mutate against the vaccine,” said Pawanexh Kohli, former CEO and chief advisor, National Centre for Cold Chain Development.
With a handful of manufacturers nearing the end of late-stage clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine candidates in India, the next challenge that awaits the government lies in finding the requisite workforce to administer the shots to such a humongous population and cold chain logistics for their last-mile distribution in such a vast, hot country.

While India has a 28,000-unit cold storage network that is used for the government’s universal immunisation programme, experts and logistics firms indianexpress.com spoke to highlight that no company had the capability or capacity to transport vaccines colder than -25 degrees Celsius.

Written by Abhishek De | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2020 3:12:43 pm
Testing for Covid-19 in progress in Mumbai. India has a 28,000-unit cold storage network that is used for the government’s universal immunisation programme

With a handful of manufacturers nearing the end of late-stage clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine candidates in India, the next challenge that awaits the government lies in finding the requisite workforce to administer the shots to such a humongous population and cold chain logistics for their last-mile distribution in such a vast, hot country.

While India has a 28,000-unit cold storage network that is used for the government’s universal immunisation programme, experts and logistics firms indianexpress.com spoke to highlight that no company had the capability or capacity to transport vaccines colder than -25 degrees Celsius.

Thus, distributing vaccines like that of Pfizer’s mRNA candidate, which has been found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 but needs to be stored at -75 degrees Celsius, will be challenging for India. However, the vaccines undergoing trials in India need to be kept between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, while in transport and storage until delivery.

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