The Indian vaccines industry is valued at INR 3,000 Crores  and ranks third in terms of volume globally. Still, one in every five children does not receive even the basic vaccines. Approximately 25% of the vaccines go wasted each year before reaching the doctors and customers. The main reason is the inefficient supply chain and logistics management system. An efficient cold chain system has to be maintained to preserve the quality of a vaccine before it is utilized.
Nearly 70 per cent of the vaccines are temperature sensitive; it loses its effect if exposed to temperatures below or above its recommended limits. For the vaccines to maintain their efficacy, they have to be transported at a temperature range of 2-8 °C.
Common breaks in the cold chain occur through refrigeration failure, power outage, overheating of vaccines during transportation, and freezing of vaccines.
Reasons for vaccine damage in the supply chain-
- Freezing- exposure of vaccines below 0°C loss of potency is immediate
- Heat-when exposed to temperatures above 8°C for longer durations
- Inaccuracy of temperature readings due to inaccurate measuring devices and improper calibration
The wastage of vaccine occurs across multiple levels in the supply chain
Due to broken cold storage and transportation facilities, the entire vaccine supply from the manufacturer is unable to reach the immunization venues losing their efficacy along the way.
The wastage of vaccines leads to shortage causes the prices to go up. The prices of BCG, DPT and TT vaccines have more than doubled the past decade. Investment in Cold chain is key to tackle losses in transportation and storage of vaccines. An efficient cold chain system can curb increase in prices.
Substantial investment in Cold Chain infrastructure can help reduce wastage and save numerous lives by making vaccines available to every child in India.