India's existing cold chain infrastructure is capable of storing COVID-19 vaccine required for 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers, a senior government official said on Tuesday. In a presentation at the daily COVID-19 briefing, the Union Health Ministry informed that it has consulted states and union territories for additional requirement of cold storages.
"The current cold chain is capable of storing an additional quantity of COVID-19 vaccine required for first 3 crore health workers and front line workers," said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
"Once we get a green signal from our scientists, we'll launch massive production of the vaccine. We've made all the preparations and drawn an outline to ramp up production of vaccine and to make it available to each and every person in shortest possible time," he earlier said.
In its presentation, the Union Health Ministry informed that the current cold chain system in India consists of 85,634 equipments for storage of vaccine at about 28,947 cold chain points across the country. The ministry said it is in touch with the states and union territories for assessing additional requirement with respect to cold chain storage infrastructure, including walk in coolers, walk in freezers, deep freezers, ice-lined refrigerators, etc. The ministry said that additional supplies will be made available to states and union territories from December 10, 2020.
Sharing progress on the COVID-19 vaccine front, the ministry informed that multiple vaccine candidates are in different stages of development, some might get licensed in next few weeks. The ministry informed that three vaccine candidates are in pre-clinical stage, whereas six others are undergoing clinical trials.
On vaccination plans, the government stated that "every single Indian who needs to be vaccinated will be vaccinated". Notably, the Union Health Secretary a few days ago had clarified that the government is looking to use the vaccines primarily for breaking the coronavirus transmission chain, a view supported by the Indian Council Medical Research. If this objective is achieved, there will be no need for mass vaccination, ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava had said.
Health Ministry has identified around 30 crore people across three priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19. These groups are healthcare workers; frontline workers including police and security personnel, and municipal workers; and persons above 50 years of age and with co-morbidities.
The ministry has also developed a digital platform, Co-WIN, to track vaccine delivery. The platform, which can be accessed even via a dedicated mobile application, will keep an eye on storage temperature of vaccines and beneficiary management.