Even as the number of new Covid infections in Maharashtra dips to less than 4,000 per day, the State Government machinery is gearing up for a mass vaccination programme. In cities such as Mumbai, Thane and Pune, which have seen the maximum number of cases, the local municipal administration has started identifying sites for long term storage of vaccines.
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has selected one of its own facilities for vaccine storage. It has also placed orders for cooling machinery.
Additional Municipal Commissioner, Suresh Kakani told BusinessLine that a five-phase blueprint has been drawn up for the mass vaccination programme. Temporarily the vials can be stored in the four state government medical colleges facilities even if needed immediately. However, the MCGM has also decided to create a permanent storage facility. A five-storey building at Kanjurmarg, suburban Mumbai has been identified. Out of the five floors, three would be used for vaccine storage and two for expanding capacity when needed.
The site will have storages with two types of temperature control. One storage will maintain 2-8 degree Celsius and the other maintain minus 25 to minus 15 degree Celsius. In every municipal ward, schools and gymkhanas are being identified for use as temporary vaccination centres, Kakani said.
However, in spite of such elaborate plans for mass vaccination by the Maharashtra government, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is not fully convinced.
The President of Maharashtra unit of IMA, Avinash Bhondwe said that vaccines should be tested on more human subjects before going ahead with the mass programme by the Centre and State Government. The safety of the vaccine has to be tested widely with numerous volunteers across the globe with different categories such as age groups, gender, race, geographical locations, and climatic conditions. Any vaccine which is not tested fully with third degree clinical trials is not safe. There might be many side effects after its inoculation, from simple rashes to severe and fatal anaphylactic reactions, he said.
Bhondwe said even if the vaccine is given emergency approval by the ICMR, it should be noted that the vaccine cold chain needs to be maintained properly and consistent power supply will be required.