Thursday, January 07, 2021

First vaccine batch to land in Kolkata as final trial gets going on Friday

Kolkata: The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines could land in Kolkata around the time the final trial for vaccination is underway in 69 hospitals and health centres across the state on Friday.

Covishield shots from Pune’s Serum Institute of India will be flown into Kolkata in an Indian Air Force An-32 transport aircraft either on Friday or Saturday, sources said. The shipment to Kolkata will not only include vaccines that have been approved for front-line medical professionals in Bengal, it will also contain consignments for the seven northeastern states, Sikkim and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

In Kolkata, the final trial for vaccination will be carried out on Friday at SSKM Hospital, NRS Medical College and an urban health centre under Kolkata Municipal Corporation as part of a statewide drill. Apart from these three sites, the drill will be conducted in three health centres in each districts. “All district health officials have been asked to prepare sites for the trial,” a health department official said.

The first trial was successfully conducted on Saturday in three primary health centres, including one in Kolkata.

“The entire process of vaccination, starting with transporting from the nearest storage site, putting them in the cold chain at the vaccination site and administering the vaccine to those registered for the vaccination and feeding the data to the Co-WIN app system will be replicated,” a health department official said.

Also much like the polling process, each trial site will have five personnel tasked with different assignments like crowd management, identification verification, vaccination and counselling. These vaccination officers will work under a supervisor. Altogether, 25 dummy beneficiaries will be involved in each site, making it 75 dummy beneficiaries in each district. In all, 1,725 dummy beneficiaries will participate in a statewide drill.

Officials of the two teaching medical colleges in Kolkata said all preparatory work will be completed by Thursday, well in time for the trial the following day.

The real vaccine, Covishield, will arrive in boxes containing 1,200 vile each. One vile will contain 10 dozes that has to be administered to 10 persons within four to five hours of opening the vile. The contents of each box can provide one vaccine shot for 12,000 people. Bengal will need 50 boxes to administer one doze of the vaccine to 6 lakh frontline workers now and a further 50 boxes for the second doze two-three months later.

Around 2 crore vaccines will be dispatched from Pune to 59 destinations across the country, including Kolkata, in the first phase of shipment. A decision was taken to use Air Force aircraft as Pune is a defence airfield with restricted operation hours for civilian flights. There is an added complication with Bengal as passenger flights from Pune continue to be restricted to three days-a-week.

An official at the airport said the boxes mean for other states would be transferred directly from the Air Force plane to another passenger or Air Force aircraft to carry these to the other states.

07/01/21 Sumati Yengkhom & Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

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