October 27, 2020: As the government prepares the modalities for the rollout of a vaccine for COVID-19, logistics industry players are prepping up for the same and entering into cold chain logistics arrangements with pharmaceutical and bio-medical companies, for vaccine distribution and management.
Among the logistics companies which have begun talks with pharmaceutical and bio-medical companies that are conducting clinical trials in India to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 are players such as DHL and Blue Dart Express Ltd.
Cold chain logistics, encompassing temperature-controlled transport by road and air, warehouse storage and distribution, will be key to successful vaccination of the country’s population.
Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has granted test licence permission for manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine for preclinical test to Serum Institute of India, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd and Biological E Ltd.
Blue Dart highlighted that they are already working through their temperature-controlled logistics services with many pharma and bio-medical companies that are conducting clinical trials in India for a vaccine, while a spokesperson from DHL Express (India) Pvt Ltd stated that the company is expected to finalise arrangements with such companies in next three-four weeks for vaccine distribution.
A NITI Aayog committee headed by member V. K. Paul is currently working to frame the modalities and procedures for vaccine administration in the country. The committee is expected to finalise the same, in the coming few weeks, a senior health official said.
Multinational logistics service provider DHL and consulting firm McKinsey in a whitepaper released in September stated that for vaccine distribution, public-private partnerships should be in the form of three-way agreements between medical supply producers, logistics service providers and health authorities.
It is anticipated that the government will utilise the electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network under the Universal Immunisation Programme, which provides real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all vaccine cold chain points in the country. This will be instrumental for dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine in the country when available.
“As of today the eVIN (electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network ) network is just getting prepared for the COVID scenario…we are studying developments in this space very closely, whilst engaging deeply with the government and the pharmaceutical manufacturers and are prepared when the vaccine gets into mass production,” said Ketan Kulkarni, chief marketing officer and head, business development, Blue Dart.