The Union health ministry on Tuesday said it has asked states to stop making separate plans for vaccine distribution, and advised creating a database according to a blueprint released by the Centre, reported The Hindu. The states have also been asked to explore the possibilities of cold storage facilities for the vaccines.

“States/UTs have been also asked to set up committees under chief secretaries for administration to ensure time-bound implementation of the Central government direction,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said during a press conference. The ministry said that the expert panel was also reviewing the infrastructure and manpower support offered by private players.

The ministry has also begun mapping cold storage facilities across the country for Covid-19 vaccine administration. “Recently, we have given a direction to states to review the cold storage, refrigerated vans, used in Universal Immunization,” Bhushan said, according to The Indian Express. “We are doing at this at the Centre and if states follow, then granular details will emerge...which will result in better planning.”

A temperature-controlled cold chain, including equipment and processes used in transport, storage, and handling, is crucial to administer the vaccine. On Tuesday, the Union health secretary said the panel is discussing with private hospitals about cold storage capabilities.

“During the Universal Immunization programme, we utilise slightly more than 28,000 cold chain points across the country; we utilise, 700-plus refrigerated vans and we have 70,000-plus vaccinators,” Bhushan said, according to the newspaper.

The health ministry official also said that Manipur, Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal had shown a rise of cases, and called for a “test-trace-and-treat strategy” as a response. “They have also been asked to preserve and protect the gains of the past and guard against future surge during festivals by following Covid appropriate behaviour,” he added.

Bhushan also noted two other directions to the states – first, to come up with a priority population database, and the second, to create a group under the chief secretary’s chairmanship at the state-level.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 83,13,876 on Tuesday with 46,253 new cases being recorded in 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed. The country’s toll increased by 514 to 1,23,611. The number of active cases stood at 5,33,787, while the recoveries reached 76,56,478.

The first phase of vaccinations will tentatively take place between January and July 2021, Bhushan had said during a briefing on October 21. Multiple IDs will be prescribed under the National Digital Health Mission during the coronavirus vaccination drive.

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