The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has expressed concern over the fact that even if the vaccine comes out in December and is approved by the ICMR, the inoculation or the administering of the vaccine would be only possible in the next 2-3 months.
The IMA listed several problems in the country, including the need to maintain a cold chain throughout from the manufacturing site to the vaccination centre and that any disruption in the cold chain would make the vaccine ineffective.
The mRNA vaccines need to maintain the temperature around minus 25 degrees to minus 70 degrees in some of the vaccine types.
In India, the additional conditions would be of transport vehicles with the facilities to maintain the required temperature and currently the government does not have such facilities and may require outsourcing it, which will take quite some time, as per the IMA.
The government hospitals, primary health centres and sub-centres will have to install refrigeration cold stores maintaining such low temperature levels. At present in India there are not many such facilities and the state government is planning to install it and it will take a minimum of 2-3 months for that, said IMA.
“The additional challenges would be providing 24×7 electricity to deep freezing machinery.
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To inoculate 130 crore of the Indian population, government staff will not be sufficient and the government may need to employ additional staff or will have to outsource it to private hospitals.
Considering all these points, we feel that even if the vaccine is available in December 2020, the inoculation drive may not begin for the next 2 to 3 months,” said officials of the IMA.
The IMA in its letter states that the government may take a decision to provide the vaccine at select metros, but again it will create discontent in the masses especially from rural India.