On November 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with the Chief Ministers of various States, advised them to prepare a roadmap and establish cold chains for effective distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had asked all the District Collectors to prepare a detailed plan and form a task force at the district-level. Visakhapatnam District Collector Vinay Chand and District COVID Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College P.V. Sudhakar have created a 17-member task force, to oversee the smooth distribution of the vaccine in the district.
The District Collector will be the chairman of the task force and the District Immunisation Officer Jeevan Rani will be the member-convenor. The other members include officials such as Principal, Andhra Medical College, Superintendent of King George Hospital, DMHO, DEO, Commissioner GVMC, Commissioner VMRDA, a senior officer from city and district police, minority welfare officer, WHO representative in the city and representative from UNICEF and UNDP.
As per the vaccine roll out plan, to begin with, the vaccine will be first administered to the frontline health workers, followed by 60 plus senior citizens and children, said Dr. Sudhakar.
According to him, initially the vaccine will be administered to 3% of the population or frontline health workers. “We have already finalised a list of health workers, which includes doctors, paramedics and nurses, from the Andhra Medical College side. As of now we have listed about 3,000 names from AMC and other eight teaching hospitals under AMC,” he said.
It is learnt that DMHO also has been told to finalise a list of health workers both from private and government hospitals, and the work is on.
According to Dr. Jeevan Rani, the initial requirement is about a lakh of vaccine doses.
At present, the immunisation department has a refrigeration facility of about 16.5 cubic metres. “The State government has sanctioned another 40 cubic metre refrigeration facility, for which the civil work has already begun. Once this is ready, we will be able to stock a lakh of vaccine doses at any given time,” she said.
According to her, the vaccines need to be stored in a regulated temperature between 2° and 8° Celsius, and the existing and the new one that is coming up has the facility.
Going by Dr. Jeevan Rani’s vaccine storage temperature specification, it is understood that the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, is suited for the district or the State, as the storage temperature for this vaccine is 2° to 8° Celsius.
Vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNtech require a storage temperature of -70° Celsius and Moderna’s vaccine requires -20°C and Sputnik needs storage temperature of -18°C.
With many questioning the effectiveness of the vaccines, Dr. Sudhakar said that even 70% effectiveness is good enough.
“We have earlier administered many vaccines in the past for other diseases that were 70 % effective,” he said.
According to him, Pfizer has announced that their vaccine is 90% effective, while Moderna said it was 94.5% and Sputnik 94.5%. The vaccine developed by Oxford AstraZeneca with Serum India Limited and ICMR as partners, was tested in KGH and is said to be 70.4% effective.