Delhi's Immunization Officer Suresh Seth on November 26 said that the national capital is all geared up for the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the entire population of the city can be covered in a month if the hospital staff and nurses are involved in the process.
"We have 600 cold storage points and around 1,800 outreach sites for the universal immunization programme for children. We have sufficient equipment for vaccines that can be stored at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and those that need minus 15 to minus 25 degrees Celsius. The central government is further strengthening the infrastructure and providing more equipment," Seth told NDTV.
He also said that the equipment and infrastructure which is required for vaccines which need ultra-condition (minus 70 degree Celsius) are not there but, "we don't think there will be any problem logistically because the immunization programme will be carried out in a phased manner".
Delhi government is collecting data of health care workers who are at the top in the priority list for being vaccinated by the Delhi government. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cleared the questions of having "VIP or non-VIP categories" for vaccinating people against COVID-19 and said that every life is important so there would be no categorization of people and everyone will be vaccinated but priority would be given to COVID warriors working in the front line to save the nation from the pandemic, vulnerable groups such as senior citizens and those having severe medical conditions will also be prioritized.
"If a vaccine is available, we can administer it to all healthcare workers in just three days... We have sufficient equipment and cold storage space, we are geared up. We won't let Delhi falter," Seth said.
"Being the national capital, it has got the equipment and capacity. All we need is trained manpower to carry out the immunization programme effectively," Dr Ajit Jain, the nodal officer for COVID-19 at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital said.
Development On Vaccines
The vaccine developed by Pfizer which requires an extremely low temperature of minus 70 degrees Celcius to be stored poses a really big challenge for its delivery in a developing nation like India especially in its smaller towns and rural areas where maintaining such cold chain facilities would be very difficult, experts have said.
On the other hand, Moderna vaccine candidate is stable at a regular freezer temperature -minus 20-degree Celcius for up to six months and it can last in the refrigerator for 30 days and also can be kept at a room temperature for up to 12 hours.
According to Oxford University, its vaccine candidate Oxford- AstraZeneca "can be easily administered in existing healthcare systems, stored at 'fridge temperature' and distributed using existing logistics".
Two to eight degrees Celcius is the average temperature to which most vaccines can be stored at in India, "the lowest minimum temperature at which vaccines can be kept to maintain the cold chain in most areas in the country is minus 25 degrees", AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said.
Nk Ganguly former Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research has emphasized on enough infrastructure which is available across the country to store COVID-19 vaccines at a temperature of two to eight-degree Celcius.
"There is only one vaccine in India - the Rotavirus vaccine from Bharat Biotech - that needs to be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius. The company has made arrangements for its storage and transport. We don't have the equipment and infrastructure for anything that needs to be stored below this temperature," he said.
"It is priced at USD 1,500. In India, the price should be below ₹ 500," he said.