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Explained: India’s preparedness for Covid-19 vaccination drive

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India is gearing up for the Covid-19 immunisation drive even as the new variant of the disease surfaced in the country with six people testing positive for the new strain on Tuesday. 

Explained: India’s preparedness for Covid-19 vaccination drive
India is gearing up for the Covid-19 vaccination drive even as the new variant of the disease was detected in the country on Tuesday with some UK returnees testing positive for the UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive is likely to be kicked off in January 2021.
The vaccination drive for COVID-19 pandemic in India will start with three vaccine-makers - Pfizer, Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech.
All three have applied for emergency use authorisation of their vaccine candidates.
Dry Run in 4 States
A two-day dry run was carried out in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Assam to strengthen the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
The objective of the dry run was to test the COVID-19 vaccination process, including planning and preparations according to operational guidelines
The Union Health Ministry said detailed insights and feedback obtained from the dry run will help enrich the operational guidelines and IT platform, adding that suggestions were also noted for further enhancement of Co-WIN platform.
Co-Win App has been developed by the government to monitor vaccine delivery and allocation. The App will also enable citizens to register for the vaccination process.
Centre's Guidelines to States
States have been asked to implement an integrated 360-degree comprehensive advocacy communication and social mobilisation strategy to address the challenges surrounding vaccine rollout progress and benefits.
The states have also been asked to allocate the vaccine from one manufacturer to a district to avoid mixing of different COVID-19 vaccines.
"Health care personnel, including state and district programme managers, medical officers, vaccinator officers, information, education and communication officers, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA workers, and Mahila Arogya Samitis will be engaged in the vaccination process, "the guidelines added.
At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations.
Airports To Ensure Smooth Transport and Storage of Vaccines
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai will provide flexible slot allocation for ad hoc freighter operations for transportation of COVID-19 vaccines.
A spokesperson said that the airport will provide "round the clock green channel with dedicated truck docks, X-Ray machine, ULD (unit load device) buildup workstation.
Meanwhile, the Delhi airport has a storage capacity of 2.7 million vials of COVID-19 vaccine and two cargo terminals with cool chambers where temperature can be set anywhere between -20 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.
The airport operator has named the vaccine distribution programme as 'Project Sanjivani'.
Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, the CEO of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), said, “We have a storage capacity of around 2.7 million vaccine vials at any moment of time. If we are able to conduct two rounds of distribution during a day, we can distribute 5.4 million vials daily.”
The Delhi airport has also made arrangements for dry ice supply so that the vaccine can be kept stable for a longer period.
Furthermore, Spicejet has signed an MoU with GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC), a GMR group company, for providing a seamless service to all vaccine manufacturers in the region.
Under the MoU, GHAC shall provide available required space on priority for SpiceJet's vaccine shipments besides training its personnel along with the airline for specific customer requirement.
Central Armed Police Force to Assist in Vaccination Drive
The central police organisations and the CAPFs have been asked to prepare their manpower in case they are required to assist the healthcare system of the country in the safe disposal of the huge medical waste that will be generated during the country-wide coronavirus vaccination drive.
The CAPFs will ensure that the waste generated in their campuses or in their surroundings is properly disposed of.
Serum Institute of India Produces Around 50 Million Dosages
The Pune-based Serum Institute of India has already produced around 50 million dosages of ‘Covishield’.
The vaccine is being manufactured by the Serum Institute in collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
The company plans to ramp up the vaccine production to 100 million dosages per month by March next year with the coming up of SII''s third manufacturing facility.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said that India would get the majority of vaccines produced next year with some part of the production also going to other markets as part of COVAX.
Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ Undergoes Phase 3 Trials
‘Covaxin’ is being developed by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology.
Company’s Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella said the vaccine can also offer protection against mutation of coronavirus.
"It (coronavirus) is expected to have a lot of mutation and you can be rest assured this vaccine will also protect against that (mutated) virus because of two hypotheses... "So you have these two components in the inactivated vaccine. It will also take care of those mutations," Ella said
(With inputs from PTI)
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