Airports play central role as gateways for Covid-19 vaccine shipments
Satyaki Raghunath, chief strategy and development officer, Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL) talks to Indian Transport and Logistics News (itln.in) on how airports play a crucial role in the movement of Covid-19 vaccines and challenges faced by Indian logistics as a whole.
February 10, 2021: India rolled out the Covid-19 vaccination programme on January 16 and the Indian logistics is operating its full efficiency to move the approved Covid-19 vaccines like Covishield and Covaxin. In the first phase, the Indian government wants to vaccinate three crore healthcare and frontline workers, while in the second it will be taken up to 30 crore when elderly and people with serious co-morbidities will be vaccinated.
Satyaki Raghunath, chief strategy & development officer, Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL) talks to Indian Transport and Logistics News (itln.in) on how airports play a crucial role in the movement of Covid-19 vaccines and challenges faced by Indian logistics as a whole.
The govt of India is planning to vaccinate a large part of its population against Covid-19? What are the challenges that the Indian logistics industry is facing?
Temperature excursions, lack of adequate infrastructure such as cold chain, cargo supply chain, transparency about the condition of the shipment, availability of cargo space and transportation from port to delivery points are key challenges that need to be addressed. Apart from cold chain and supply chain issues, India would need to prepare and train the health workforce, deploy digital tracking systems, ensure safety surveillance protocols are in place and undertake community preparedness activities. Vaccines that are being developed are administered in two doses, which means there would be a continuous inflow of vaccines. This demands efficient processing of the vaccines.
The government of India is working to ensure that the gaps in the supply chain are addressed though effective delivery channels until the point of consumption. However, the onus will also be on teams working at the last mile to ensure that the vaccine is managed as per the logistics guidelines provided by the vaccine manufactures.
How from Bengaluru Airport perspective are you positioned to solve these challenges?
BLR Airport is equipped to handle smooth processing of vaccines, thanks to our state-of-the-art infrastructure with a temperature-controlled cargo terminal capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes per annum and 25 dedicated cold storage rooms with adjustable temperature ranges from -25 to +25 degree Celsius. The Good Distribution Practices (GDP) Certification for BLR Airport demonstrates our commitment towards efficient cargo operations.
Tell us about your communications with other stakeholders for vaccines transportation including manufactures, govt institutions, and logistics companies.
BLR Airport is part of the core team, formed to ensure that air cargo is able to deliver the vaccine in the most efficient way. This activity is monitored by Vandana Aggarwal, as economic adviser in the ministry of civil aviation. This core team ensures all partners in the vaccine delivery chain coordinate closely ensure that there is no lag in the timelines.
How capable is the Indian logistics industry to maintain the temperature levels that these vaccines demand?
The Indian logistic industry is ready to transport these vaccines at temperatures ranging from 2 to 8° C. However, if temperature requirements are between -20° C and - 80° C, it will add to the complexities, since the logistics industry has never encountered a requirement of this nature in the past.
How do you think each mode of transport (road, rail, air, sea) will play their role in moving Covid vaccines?
Airports play a central role as gateways for incoming and outgoing shipments of vaccines and equipment. Airport operators are primarily responsible for facilitating and coordinating activities related to this logistical process taking place at the airport premises. For airports, transparency in logistics, real-time data monitoring, collaboration and digitisation will be key for efficient handling of vaccines.