India readies for 600 million Covid vaccine doses, to use standard cold storage, electoral rolls for distribution

Worldwide, Indian pharmaceutical companies are major manufacturers and Astra Zeneca’s Covishield shots are being mass-produced at the Serum Institute of India, while Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are developing their own vaccines.

An expert group in relation to vaccine administration for Covid 19, is led by VK Paul, advising India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. VK Paul announced on Friday that the Indian government has set up cold rooms with temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius for vaccine use. To be able to deliver 600 million doses of vaccine to the most vulnerable people in the giant country over the next 6 to 8 months, India will make use of its conventional chain systems and large selection machinery.

In the interview on Friday, VK Paul expressed that the vaccine from Serum, Bharat, Zydus and Sputnik needs a normal cold chain, and that this is not perceived as a challenge to be able to deliver in the country. Indian pharmaceutical companies are major manufacturers worldwide. Thus, the Serum Institute of India already mass-produces and stores AstraZeneca’s Covishield shots, while Indian biotechnology players Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila develop their own vaccine candidates.

Regulators in India are also looking at emergency vaccines, including vaccines from Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech, but for the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. there are great demands on the storage condition which requires a temperature of at least minus 70 degrees Celsius, which is expected to limit its use in India. However, should there theoretically be a situation in India where vaccines that require only ordinary cold chain needs cannot be procured in sufficient quantities, the Indian authorities will take care of making available storage options where the temperature can drop to minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Next to the United States, India is the country in the world affected by the largest caseload of coronavirus. Compared to the United States, however, there are significantly fewer deaths among the infected in India. In continuation of this information, VK Paul said on Friday that the most important task is to protect lives and that the government has therefore drawn up a plan to be able to immediately vaccinate 300 million people, all of whom must be vaccinated with two doses of vaccine in the first part of their program.

Last month, the Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero signed an agreement to produce more than 100 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V Covid 19 vaccine a year in India.



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