How the ONGC Foundation is helping states make the COVID-19 vaccination drive a success
On Monday, it was reported that India registered over one lakh new cases in 24 hours, the largest spike since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While the vaccination drive is on in full force, with the Ministry of Health reporting that over eight crore doses have already been administered, there is an urgent need to have the vaccines reach every citizen.
The Delhi government has already mandated that 33 percent of vaccination centres in the state be open 24X7. In a statement issued at the end of last year, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the government was expecting up to 500 million vaccine doses, which would be administered to 20-25 crore Indians by July 2021.
Amidst the urgency, safe transportation and storage of the vaccine have been key concerns. Both Covishield and Covaxin vaccines have very specific cold chain requirements, and have to be stored at 2-8ºCelcius.
The strict temperature-controlled environment that the vaccines need to maintain efficacy has been a significant challenge, especially in remote areas of India.
According to a PTI report, Satyajit Rath from New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology (NII), said, “Most, if not all, of the current frontrunners require extremely stringent cold chains, making them immensely challenging for India to implement.”
The immunologist added that the temperatures needed to store the COVID-19 vaccine would be a challenge to realistically manage in a vaccination drive on the scale India was planning. Many vaccines lose potency when exposed to higher temperatures, he said, and re-cooling does not help.
Given the challenges involved, several players have stepped up to provide these storage facilities and enable smooth transport, storage and administration of the vaccines across the country. Among them is the(ONGC) Foundation, a part of the quasi-government ONGC, which is working across the country through various philanthropic initiatives.
ONGC Foundation, in partnership with the government, is providing several deep-freezers and ice-lined refrigerators (ILRs) to help store the doses at optimum temperature at vaccination centres across the country.
The foundation has already supplied equipment in several states. This includes:
- Small ILRs (5 in Nagaland and 17 in Tripura)
- Large ILRs (5 in Nagaland, 1 in Tripura, and 199 in Uttarakhand)
- Small Deep Freezers (2 in Nagaland)
- Large Deep Freezers (6 in Nagaland and 106 in Uttarakhand)
The foundation has also provided walk-in-coolers and freezers in Uttarakhand and Gujarat.
Speaking about its continuing efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic, ONGC Foundation CEO Kiran DM said, “This is part of our Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. We are collaborating with the government in this fight against COVID-19 To date, we have distributed over 386 small and large deep freezers. Each freezer is outfitted with cutting-edge technology. They have been custom-made to meet the government's specifications and are not available on the market.”
This initiative is part of ONGC’s larger drive to help contain the spread of the virus. In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown being announced the organisation contributed Rs 300 crore from its CSR funds to the PM CARES Fund. Each employee also contributed two days’ salary, which amounted to around Rs 16 crore.
The organisation has also been active in the field, distributing sanitisers, face masks, PPE kits, food, and ration kits in financially challenged neighbourhoods across the country. ONGC has also been formulating sanitisers from in-house resources to meet requirements.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai