How Delhi Airport plans to help in coronavirus vaccine distribution
India is gearing up to distribute vaccines to crores of people but the task will be replete with many problems, including ensuring last-mile deliveries and storing doses at a safe temperature. Considering the logistical headaches of this program, the authorities at Delhi Airport has stepped up to lend a hand. An official claimed Delhi Airport is "ready" to handle the vaccines.
The Delhi Airport could be the "main handling point" where 2.7 million vials of a vaccine could be potentially stored. The vaccines will have to be kept at temperatures between 2 and -8 degree Celsius. Delhi International Airport Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Videh Kumar Jaipuriar told Bloomberg that the airport also has cooling chambers to maintain a temperature of -20 degree Celsius.
"We have a storage capacity of around 2.7 million vaccine vials at any moment of time. If we are able to conduct two rounds of distribution during a day, we can distribute 5.4 million vials daily," Jaipuriar told PTI.
About Pfizer's vaccine, which is being administered in a few countries, Jaipuriar said it needs to be stored at -70 degree Celsius; and the Delhi Airport isn't equipped for it. But he added that Pfizer's website says the doses can be stored in dry ice for 30 days and at 2-8 degree Celsius for five days, giving a window of 35 days for distribution.
Moreover, the two cargo terminals would become essential, once the vaccination drive begins. These terminals can handle 1.5 million metric tons of cargo per year. Both these terminals have cool chambers, where the temperature can be set between -20 degree Celsius and 25 degree Celsius. Jaipuriar explained that special arrangements have been made for trucks, which would carry the vaccines to different places.
"These vaccines can come in an envirotainer which can be plugged in to keep the vaccines cool. We have made about 60 plug points where they can be plugged in and they can stay there at the same temperature," he revealed.
Like the Delhi Airport, the Hyderabad Airport has also started preparing for the vaccine program. Both these airports stepped up in the early stages of the pandemic, by transporting millions of PPE kits and medical supplies. Meanwhile, India successfully conducted a two-day dry run for vaccination in four states, namely Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Gujarat, the government informed today.