Syringe makers in a huddle as India plans mass vaccination

by amolwarankar
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New Delhi: With India set to begin mass Covid-19 vaccination in a couple of weeks, top syringe makers in the country are eagerly waiting for the licenses so that they can supply the required numbers to avoid the last-minute rush or shortage.

Reliable sources told IANS on Monday that nation’s top syringe manufacturers are ready to supply nearly 1.8 billion syringes required for hassle-free vaccination and are currently waiting for the tenders to be open.

According to Rajiv Nath, Managing Director of Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd (HMD), the estimated demand in India would be around 900 million pieces of different kinds of syringes for just one shot of the vaccine, considering 60-70 per cent of the country gets vaccinated.

“The number would amplify to 1.8 billion if the vaccine India chooses needs two shots,” Nath told IANS. He also stressed that the time taken to vaccinate all of India is linked to what percentage of the population is targeted and how many vaccine doses are actually needed.

For example, to vaccinate 60-70 per cent of India, it may take little less than one year approximately if there is a single dose and it may be 1.5 years if a double dose is needed.

“We are currently producing approximately one lakh pieces of 0.5 ml Kojak AD syringes per hour, 24 hours a day. It’s going to be a challenge to vaccinate over 1.5-2 lakh people every hour in eight working hours daily,” Nath emphasised.

“By April-June, we will need to build infrastructure to vaccinate over 2-2.5 lakh people per hour i.e 16 to 20 lakh people daily.”

The Covax facility working for global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines ordered 140 million Kojak AD Syringes from HMD to be supplied between August and December 2020.

HMD has already shipped over 100 million pieces of Kojak Auto Disable Syringes to Covax stockpile facility as the Covid-19 vaccines are showing promising results across the globe and will soon send the next 40 million syringes within December.

Pavan Mocherla, Managing Director of Becton Dickinson (BD) – India and South Asia, an American multinational medical technology company, said that it is critically important to make sure that the healthcare workers are supplied with the right injection devices that will ultimately be needed to deliver a vaccine to help support India’s 1.3 billion population.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF recommended that auto-disabled syringes must be used for administering vaccines – particularly in mass immunisation programmes.

On the function of auto-disabled syringes and their role in the Covid-19 vaccine immunisation programme, Mocherla explained: “Auto-disabled syringes are the ones that get disabled after a single use.”

To protect the population from contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C while getting preventive vaccines, the Indian government has been adopting the use of single use auto-disabled syringes in its vaccination programmes from August 2005,” he noted.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that 30 crore people have been listed in prioritised population groups, which involves one crore healthcare workers, two crore personnel from the police department, armed forces, home guard, civil defence organisation and 27 crore people above the age of 50 and below 50 with co-morbidities.

The government is expected to roll out vaccines in the next few weeks with at least three candidates under the active consideration of India’s drug regulator.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech have already applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) seeking emergency use authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccines.

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