Covid-19: Centre finalising shipping facilities for India's vaccination drive
The Union health ministry is finalising shipping arrangements for approved coronavirus vaccines from manufacturers to storage facilities across states in collaboration with the civil aviation ministry, officials said on Sunday, as the government prepares to begin vaccinating priority groups from January 16.
India’s vaccination drive, the world’s largest immunisation exercise against Covid-19, will kick off on January 16 with priority to about 30 million health care and frontline workers. The government plans to vaccinate 270 million others in six to eight months.
“Arrangements are being made for shipping the vaccine supplies after orders are issued in coming days without wasting any time. Expeditious transport of vaccine is being ensured from state vaccine stores to last-mile cold chain points by all states and Union territories,” said Manohar Agnani, additional secretary, health ministry, during the Union health minister’s review of preparedness.
The finance ministry has so far approved ₹480 crore for the operational costs of the exercise. “The money is being disbursed among states according to the beneficiary load to fund the operational cost of the vaccination for the first 10 million beneficiary vaccinations,” said Agnani.
Till January 9, data of about 8 million health care workers was registered on CoWIN, a digital platform to track the status of the vaccination drive.
The Drug Controller General of India has approved two vaccines for emergency use – Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, which is manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has been cleared for restricted use in emergency situations in “clinical trial mode”.
The Union health ministry on Sunday held a video conference with state representatives to review the functioning of CoWIN software that forms the backbone of the last-mile vaccine administration.
The meeting was chaired by Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman of the empowered group on technology and data management to combat Covid-19 and member, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid-19. “There cannot be any proxies for Aadhaar authentication. It is extremely important to clearly identify the person who is getting vaccinated and keep a digital record...,” he said.