The Government of India is making integrated efforts for vaccine development by facilitating and strengthening the vaccine development ecosystem. Several initiatives have been launched recently to encourage more companies to develop vaccines and conduct clinical trials. This was stated by Dr. Alka Sharma, Scientist and Adviser, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. She was speaking at the session on ‘Economics and Logistics of a Vaccine Response’ during the Partnership Summit 2020 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Dr Sharma informed the panelists that nearly 30 Indian companies and groups are presently developing the vaccine and vaccines developed by four indigenous Indian companies are at various stages of clinical trial.
Mr Ashok Bajpai, Group Head of Operations and Integration, IHH Healthcare Berhad, Singapore highlighted the three critical areas of vaccine distribution process i.e. logistics, existing distribution network and supply chain.
There is no practical model that can be adopted for the mass distribution of the vaccine. This is a 2-3 year project on a global scale and we have to keep the momentum going as we begin mass inoculations, he added. Post-pandemic transportation and distribution logistics will have to be resilient, robust and adapted to the just-in-time model. It is a great time for us to be able to innovate and coordinate between the pharma as well as the logistics industry going forward, he stressed.
Mr Vikrant Shrotriya, Managing Director, Novo Nordisk India Private Limited, said that logistics would be a huge challenge and it will be very difficult to maintain the desired temperature to preserve the vaccine. He added that there will be 200,000 pallets in terms of vaccine distribution, 15,000 cargo flights and 15 million deliveries through more than 80,000 refrigerated vans.
Mr Steve J Schommer, Senior Vice President, Eversana, USA said that the some of the same logistics problems and issues that existed for Covid will play out again for transportation and storage of vaccines. However, we can turn the chaos and disruption experienced during Covid into an opportunity by working parallelly to mitigate the key problems and issues in distribution, storage and logistics.
Talking about the possible steps that could be taken to ensure a quick rollout and rapid delivery of the vaccine, Mr Amit Chopra, MD & VP/GM, India and Middle East, Thermo Fisher Scientific, India said that it would be helpful to have a better forecasting mechanism jointly between the private sector and the government to look at end-to-end planning process and start feeding that into our global supply chain. This would make it possible to meet the needs of the country- whether it is the vaccine producing raw material, cold storage equipment, or the ability to run clinical trials to help the country scale up, deliver and produce vaccines.
The equitable distribution of vaccines, which is critical to achieve herd immunity and the global mechanism to administer the same, is also a big challenge, along with its procurement, transport, storage and distribution, he said.
Dr Annapurna Das, Country Head - Vaccines, South Asia and India Sanofi Pasteur advised to step back and see how confident the community is about vaccination. She also suggested the need for a series of community training programmes to inform and disseminate relevant details about the vaccine.
Mr T V Narendran, President-Designate, CII said that for every country, including India, there is an urgent need to draw up a plan with details regarding four main categories – vaccine production and financing; safety and efficacy of each candidate vaccine; distribution aspects and equity and accountability.
16 December 2020