Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Delhi Airport Preps For Covid Vaccine Storage, "Distribution In January"

New Delhi: Though the Indian drug regulator DCGI is yet to give an emergency-use authorisation for any COVID-19 vaccine, the country's largest airport in Delhi is gearing up to handle distribution of lakhs of vials under Project Sanjivani as early as next month.

On Tuesday, Delhi Airport Chief Executive Officer Videh Kumar Jaipuriya said they have been in touch with the government, and "as per government indications, we should be ready for distribution sometime in January".

Talking to NDTV, Mr Jaipuriya said specific sections of the cargo terminal at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport have been allotted for the storage and transportation of the temperature-sensitive vaccines.

"The airport has cold chambers which can store at least 27 lakh vials at a given point and up to 80 lakh vials can be transported per day," he added.

There are two cold chambers in the main cold storage area - one can maintain -20 degrees Celsius and could be useful for the Moderna vaccine when it comes to India, and the other is a 2-8 degrees section needed for vaccines from Oxford and Bharat Biotech.

However, the airport does not have the infrastructure needed to maintain -70 degrees for the Pfizer vaccine that's being used in the UK, where a new and more aggressive strain of the novel coronavirus has been detected.

"We have storage facility to maintain up to -20 degrees Celsius, but not -70 degrees. But, as per Pfizer's own statement, their containers will be designed to maintain -70 degrees for 30 days if they are refilled with dry ice. Otherwise they can also be maintained at 2-8 degree Celsius for 5 days," Mr Jaipuriya said indicating that the airport would be able to handle its distribution if the need arises.

Mr Jaipuriya also spoke about the reason behind naming the project 'Sanjivani'.

"We have named it as Project Sanjivani because bringing the vaccine is like getting 'Sanjeevani booti'," he said. Sanjeevani is a medicinal plant that has been mentioned in Ramayana for its healing properties. According to the epic, Lord Hanuman was asked to fetch the herb from the Himalayas to save the life of Lakshman, Lord Ram's brother.

23/12/20 Sukriti Dwivedi/NDTV

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