Thursday, December 31, 2020

Centre Instructs Airline Operators To Draft SOPs For COVID-19 Vaccine Transportation

The Civil Aviation ministry's officials said that "the Centre has directed Airport operators, including state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), ground handling service providers and airlines to put in place the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the transportation of Covid-19 vaccines that will be approved by the government".

With the coordination of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Pharmaceuticals, the SOPs will be drafted, which will be the driving force behind the formation of a multi-mode cold chain that will ensure the refrigerated production, transport, storage and distribution of the vaccines.

Aviation Secretary Pardeep Kharola said, "All the main stakeholders -- the airports, the ground handlers and the airlines -- have been alerted and they have been asked to draw up their plans”. 

“The exact SOPs will be formulated with the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals when we know the exact quality of the vaccines in terms of what are the precautions that need to be taken, how it has to be transported and what all measures are required. All this has to be factored in. That will be done nearer to the date of transportation and the detailed SOPs will be laid down", he also added. 

Over transport logistics, the Aviation Ministry has held a round of meetings with airline executives. The Aviation Ministry announced that they were working with the Health Ministry to make all necessary arrangements to maintain the "integrity of cold chain" during the nationwide transportation of the vaccine. As coronavirus vaccines are temperature-sensitive, the present cold chain system and equipment for the storage of vaccines needs to be thoroughly tested ahead of the expected vaccination drive in January 2021, as per the Ministry.

On Tuesday, Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said that by January a vaccine may be available in India and the Centre aims to inoculate at least 300 million people until July 2021 for which at least 600 million doses will be required. Kharola said the most important factor across the entire vaccine supply chain that is being established will be 'temperature regulation'.

31/12/20 Astha Singh/

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