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Business News/ Companies / News/  Cold chain cos prep for vaccine delivery
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Cold chain cos prep for vaccine delivery

Cold chain and logistics companies are ramping up capacity and training manpower to handle vaccines

Cold chain and logistics companies are ramping up capacity and training manpower to handle vaccines. afp (MINT_PRINT)Premium
Cold chain and logistics companies are ramping up capacity and training manpower to handle vaccines. afp (MINT_PRINT)

Logistics and cold chain companies such as DHL Express and Blue Star are boosting capacities as they prepare to distribute covid-19 vaccines across the country from next year. The companies are also training manpower to handle vaccines that will need to be stored and transported at very low temperatures.

Snowman Logistics Ltd, a cold chain logistics company, runs 31 cold storages across 15 cities and plans to expand its capacity to 33 cold storages in 17 cities over the next three months. This translates to 120,000 pallets, with each pallet being able to store 6,000 vaccines, Snowman’s chief executive Sunil Nair said in an interview.

“All our cold storages can technically store at temperatures of up to -30°C and with minor modifications this can be taken to -40°C as well. However, most vaccine developers are talking of 2-8°C or at most -18°C. If that is the case, there is good capacity available in India," he said.

The Indian government has sufficient vaccine capacity because of the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), which targets 26 million newborns and 30 million pregnant women each year. UIP runs on the back of 27,000 functional cold chain points and about 76,000 cold chain equipment. This will be stretched while catering to the covid demand, which could be 250 million people in the first phase.

“Our company’s capacity utilization is at 85% now. We expect covid business. When the vaccine arrives, the volume would be good enough to involve private entities," Nair said.

The equipment required for vaccine storage and distribution include cold rooms, ice-lined refrigerators, deep freezers, vaccine vans, and cold boxes.

Blue Star Ltd, a commercial refrigeration manufacturer, has set aside raw material to cater to demand for new cold rooms, it said. “In addition to our regular production, we have kept raw material ready for cold rooms. Even if the demand quantity doubles versus our regular supply, we are ready. We have planned additional shifts between December 2020 and April 2021," said B. Thiagarajan, the company’s managing director.

Logistics firm DHL Express India Pvt. Ltd is in the middle of scenario planning, said its senior vice president and managing director R.S. Subramanian. The packaging of the vaccine and staff training would need to be tweaked, depending on the technology platform chosen in India. “We already do temperature-controlled movements for pharma and clinical research customers. All packing material companies engage with DHL. We are in touch with people who can move temperature-controlled shipments in addition to our capacity," Subramanian said. These companies , however, will not able to handle vaccines that require temperatures below -30°C.


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Published: 12 Nov 2020, 08:38 AM IST
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