India is preparing several task forces to oversee implementation of the country's Covid-19 vaccination program in anticipation of regulators granting an emergency use authorization for at least one vaccine candidate.
Some states hope to start mass inoculations as early as January in the vast nation of more than 1.3 billion people.
Three vaccines are currently being evaluated for authorization by Indian regulators, including the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
“We have established a multi-level governance mechanism which will oversee the vaccination process and provide assistance,” said Rajesh Bhushan, senior official, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
To transport and store the vaccines, India will use:
- 29,000 cold chain points.
- 240 walk-in coolers.
- 70 walk-in freezers.
- 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators.
- 41,000 deep freezers.
- 300 solar refrigerators
State governments have begun prepping the infrastructure required for the vaccination program, which is expected to begin in January.
“In mid-January, we are hoping that the vaccine program will be rolled out and within a few days, we will be ready to cover about 8 million beneficiaries with the first dose," G. Srinivasa Rao, the director of public health for the state of Telangana told an Indian TV news outlet earlier this week.
The southern state of Kerala announced over the weekend that it would provide the Covid-19 vaccine free of charge to its entire population and that the registration process for the vaccine is in the final stages.
The Indian government said that initially, the vaccine will be provided to health care and frontline workers, and after that, people in the 50-plus age group, subject to availability of the doses.
India has recorded nearly 10 million coronavirus cases since the start of pandemic, including more than 144,000 deaths.