Covid-19 vaccination to cover 30 crore Indians from January-July, MoCA fully ready

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at least 60 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be needed between January and July 2021

Covid-19 vaccination to cover 30 crore Indians from January-July, MoCA fully ready
The Delhi airport is fully geared up for Covid-19 vaccine distribution. Image courtesy: Twitter/@DelhiAirport

New Delhi: Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday (December 29) that it is expected that the Covid-19 vaccine will be available in India from January 2021, and the effort will be to vaccinate nearly 30 crore Indians from January to July 2021, for which at least 60 crore doses will be needed.

Countries like the UK and UAE have already started vaccinating their citizens against the deadly coronavirus. The biggest challenge for India, when it starts to vaccinate its massive population, would be to transport these vaccines to the remotest corners of the country. 

The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA), which has the mammoth charge of transporting millions of doses of vaccine from the manufacturers to different locations, said it has got all its logistics in place to distribute these temperature-sensitive vaccines. 

While addressing the annual press conference, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said that the aviation ministry is also preparing a cold chain for the transportation of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Covid-19 vaccine storage area at the Delhi airport. Image courtesy: Twitter/@DelhiAirport

The ministry is closely working with the health ministry and pharmaceutical giants for preparing the cold-chain for the Covid-19 vaccine transportation.

“In the administration of the vaccine, transportation is going to be a very important component. This vaccine has to be moved from the place of manufacturing to all the corners of the country. The movement of the vaccine will be multi-modal. It cannot be merely civil aviation, it will be a combination of different modes,” Kharola said.

Also read: As Covid-19 vaccine nears India launch, Delhi airport prepares for pivotal role

The aviation ministry has held a round of meetings with the airlines to discuss logistics issues. The secretary added that officials of the MoCA are constantly coordinating with the ministry of health and drug manufacturers. The aviation ministry is holding meetings with airports and airlines regarding the transportation plan of the vaccine.

Explaining the criticality involved in transporting and storing the vaccine, Kharola said, “The most important factor for the vaccine’s transportation will be temperature regulation for the entire cold chain that is being made. From the place of manufacture to the place of consumption is a long chain and there will be different modes; there will be road travel, air travel, there will be storages, there will be distribution and then there will be administration of the vaccine. This entire process is being prepared on a war footing.”

The secretary said that the government has marked the airlines and airports for all the logistics. Meanwhile, leading airlines and airports claim that they have upgraded their facilities and infrastructure to ensure seamless transport of vaccine in sub-zero temperature.

"Delhi airport, the largest cargo hub of South Asia region is fully prepared and geared up to facilitate distribution of COVID-19 vaccines with a handling capability of 1.8 million MT, which is scalable to 2.3 million MT," the Delhi airport tweeted. Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar said that the Covid-19 vaccines should be available for distribution from January. 

The Delhi airport, in the recent past, has acted as a hub to distribute millions of PPE kits across the country.

The airport’s cargo facility has the capacity to handle over 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of cargo per annum. It has state-of-the-art temperature-controlled zones with separate cool chambers ranging from -20 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius. This will especially be helpful given the fact that temperature-control is extremely conducive for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Also read -- Operation Covid Vaccine: SpiceJet teams up with logistics players, targets difficult goal

The Delhi airport authorities added that besides a cool chamber, it also has 'cool dollies' on the airside that ensures an unbroken cool chain during temperature-sensitive cargo movement between the terminal and aircraft.

Apart from DIAL, air cargo services at the Hyderabad airport also is getting ready to receive, store and transport the vaccines.

SpiceXpress, the dedicated cargo wing of SpiceJet said on December 2 that it is fully equipped and ready for seamlessly transporting the vaccine through a specialised service called Spice Pharma Pro. The airline has partnered with Om Logistics Limited, which is one of the biggest logistics companies in the country. Om Logistics will provide SpiceJet with the refrigerated trucks to cover the first mile and last mile across the length and breadth of the country. SpiceJet will provide the necessary air support  

The airline has an agreement with Snowman Logistics for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines as well. SpiceJet has also tied up with global leaders in cold chain solutions offering active and passive packaging with dedicated equipment to perform seamless cold chain operations.