Coronavirus in Delhi Photograph:( AFP )
With the likelihood of a vaccine against coronavirus being available within months, the government has begun a massive exercise to map out cold chain storage facilities to ensure the vaccine is delivered quickly across the country.
With 2,726 fresh cases, Delhi's COVID-19 tally crossed the three-lakh mark on Thursday, while the death toll due to the disease mounted to 5,653 with 37 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours.
According to a health bulletin issued by the Delhi government, 53,322 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. The case tally stands at 3,00,833 in the national capital, including 2,72,948 patients who have either been discharged, or have migrated or recovered.
The number of active cases is 22,232, of which 12,890 are in home isolation. The number of COVID-19 containment zones in the city is currently 2,734, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, with the likelihood of a vaccine against coronavirus being available within months, the government has begun a massive exercise to map out cold chain storage facilities to ensure the vaccine is delivered quickly across the country.
A national expert group is talking to public and private sector entities in the pharmaceutical sector, food processing industry and agro businesses as well as food delivery start-ups such as Swiggy and Zomato to identify cold storages or fridges at the taluka level that can stock and distribute the vaccine, sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said.
A draft scheme for the vaccine distribution is likely to be released around the middle of next week, they said.
At least one domestic and three foreign vaccines are likely to be available to India in the coming months.
Most of the vaccine candidates will require a cold supply chain, with temperatures that can go well below zero degree Celsius, down to -80 degrees Celsius, though most need to be kept at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.
The sources said that majority of vaccine candidates are in liquid form except a few freeze-dried products. They are to be administered through intramuscular injection/ route and requirement will be a two-dose regimen.
The majority of vaccine candidates would be available in multi-dose vials (2.5, 10, 20, and 50 doses per vial).
An estimation of cold chain space needed for vaccines has been made considering 18 per cent of the population would need to be covered within six months, they said, adding that both the current temperature ranges (+2 to +8 degrees Celsius and -15 to -20 degrees Celsius) have been considered for the scenario to account for adequate storage in either condition.
The Union health ministry has already initiated a cold chain augmentation plan to address the additional cold chain space required for the vaccine.
The sources said there will be a temporary requirement (2-3 months) of surge capacity for large cold storage at the state/ regional level to store and distribute large incoming quantities of the vaccine.
While most of the vaccine products under development require traditional cold chain temperature range (+2 to +8 degrees Celsius and -15 to -20 degrees Celsius), some products might require -60 to -80 degrees Celsius temperature for which support of the private sector which maintains such storage can be sought.
With multiple immunisation sessions getting planned, additional support by increasing the fleet of refrigerated vans to transport vaccines will support the mega immunisation drive, they said.