The Centre on Tuesday spelled out the mechanics being put in place across the country that will enable the roll-out within the next week of the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drive, which will utilise a repurposed form of the existing vaccine delivery platform at national, state, district, and local levels.
Even as talks are in the final stages with companies for signing vaccine purchase deals, the Centre’s preparations for the drive vaccine deployment and delivery management is in its advanced stages to vaccinate more than 300 million people in the first phase, said Union secretary of health and family welfare ministry, Rajesh Bhushan, during the weekly media briefing on Covid-19 updates on Tuesday.
“We are confident that we are ready to roll-out the vaccination programme within 10 days of having granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines,” Bhushan added.
On Sunday, Drugs Controller General of India announced the emergency use approval for two vaccines – the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Bharat Biotech International Limited’s locally developed vaccine candidate, Covaxin. HT reported on Monday that the government was preparing to start the vaccination drive by next week.
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Explaining the logistics, Bhushan said that the Centre is utilising its new digital vaccine delivery management system – Co-WIN – that has been enhanced from its existing platform under the annual Universal Immunisation Programme.
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The “Co-WIN vaccine delivery management system” kicks off with the transport of the doses from the manufacturing plant. In the first part, the vaccines are moved from the factory to the local health care facility. The second part covers the identification, registration of citizens, and the administration of doses, while the final part concerns with the follow-up of patients and lodging of adverse effects, if any.
“In the first step, manufactures will transport the vaccines by air to primary vaccine stores run by the Union health ministry, which are called Government Medical Stores Depot (GMSD),” Bhushan said. Currently, there are four such depots in the country – one each in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. From these depots, supplies will sent in refrigerated or insulated vans to 37 state vaccine stores spread across various states.“From there on, it is the responsibility either of the state governments or Union Territory administration to deploy the stock further as per their requirement. From the state stores, the supplies will be sent to the district vaccine stores, which is also a temperature-controlled facility,” he said.
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This entire process, storage as well as transport, will be digitally monitored in real-time.
The second part of the drive will deal with the identification and registration of vaccine candidates as well as the administration of the shot. Health care and frontline workers will not be required to register themselves as their information, gathered from their respective organisations, departments, has already fed into the system and has been populated onto Co-WIN, he said.
At-risk population priority groups – people above 50 years of age, and those under 50 years with comorbidities – will be required to register on the app.
While people above the age of 50 years will be identified based on electoral rolls, the data for those who are below the age of 50 with comorbidities will be compiled on the basis of an inclusion system which will grade diseases that may be more fatal with Covid. This system is being devised by an expert panel, which is expected to release the exact selection method in “one or two days”, Bhushan said.
In the third, and final part of the process officials will be able to follow through with the beneficiaries after the immunisation. The entire process will be digitally documented and captured in the app.
“The platform also enables documentation of any adverse event following immunisation in real-time…” Bhushan said.