Both sero-surveys and testing must be scaled up, PM Modi has said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a review meeting to assess the progress of research and vaccine development ecosystem to fight Covid-19. Be it testing, vaccine and medication, the solution has to be cost-effective, easily available and scalable, the Prime Minister said. The meeting was attended by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, NITI Aayog member (health), principal scientific advisor, senior scientists, and other officials.
The meeting comes as three vaccines are at present under trial in India. Bharat Biotech, which is developing an indigenous vaccine in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is conducting its second phase trial, the results of which are expected soon.
Lauding the efforts of the Indian vaccine developers and manufacturers, the PM said that the government is committed to facilitate and support all these efforts. But India has to cater to the world as well, the PM said.
As the vaccine trials are going on, the health ministry has started addressing aspects like vaccine storage, distribution, prioritisation etc. Under the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 that is chaired by Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, there are subgroups looking into these various aspects of vaccine development, procurement and distribution, including one that looks at cold chain requirements.
The Centre has begun identifying both government and private facilities to create hubs for vaccine storage. The focus is on maintaining cold storage as most vaccines require to be stored and distributed at a fixed temperature, failing which the vaccine becomes ineffective.
The Prime Minister during his Thursday’s meet took stock of health ministry’s distribution and delivery mechanism for vaccines.
India has about 27,000 vaccine storage centres across all 700 plus districts that are connected through eVIN; with at least 50,000 temperature loggers to monitor storage temperatures as accurately as possible for at least 40,000 frontline workers to manage logistics.