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Cold Storage Chains in India

Human civilization has come to a juncture where everything we consume is compromised by pollutants like deadly viruses and bacteria. The Covid-19 virus made it evident that to lead a healthy life in today’s world, one needs to look after their health and ensure the presence of a well-connected strong medical infrastructure. To achieve this, one of the primary needs is for a country to have fully functional cold chains in place which can cater to the medicinal storage requirements and other industry requirements like food. While medical cold storage infrastructure in India accounts for 43.7 per cent of the total revenue from the cold chain industry, there is still a lot more room in the market for growth, and need for cooler refrigerators to store vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer which require temperatures as low as -70*C. 

In furtherance to last years’ talks, the Luxemburg-based company B Medical Systems inaugurated a cold chain manufacturing facility in Mundra, Gujarat. This collaboration between India and Luxemburg will not only save millions of human and animal lives but will also help in meeting the demand of the healthcare ecosystem. The company will provide a reliable vaccine cold chain with real time monitoring which would support the country’s ability to transport safely stored vaccines throughout the year and ensure zero wastage of Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Today, Covid-19 vaccine issues and development is a matter of national interest for India and the opening of the facility is a testament to India’s commitment to ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and the vision of India stepping up in the race to become the vaccine cold chain capital of the world. 

The cold chain facility is an investment of over INR 100 crore with an annual production capacity of 100,000 units of medicinal cold chain products such as refrigerators, freezers and transport containers to fulfill the domestic demand. Another pain point for the Indian industry has been ineffective and unmonitored cold chains. Companies like Elanpro have helped by launching a remote-data monitoring device and provided support during the pandemic to various Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and hospitals. However, since cold chain deployed for vaccines in India is a novelty, the technology and services offered by Elanpro were scarcely employed. However, B Medical Systems' recent collaboration with 1mg, one of the largest Covid-19 vaccine securers, and Dr. Reddy’s will help India maintain proper cold chain storage and build transportation infrastructure for vaccine administration, and thereby, avoid any possible wastage. 

Witnessing the corollaries of the second wave, the Indian government has prioritized the need for the country to strategize and expand its cold chains in matters of health infrastructure and set up vaccine and oxygen plants to sustain in the time of a medical emergency. Throughout the country, states are offering various incentives for smooth setting up of infrastructure to deal with Covid-19 and are now paying attention to cold storage as a vital element in the battle. The cold chain storage set up in Gujarat is of tremendous significance in India’s vaccine diplomacy and its strategic location provides impetus for the nation to link healthcare infrastructure and renewable energy, and further provide space for setting up of more chains in neighboring states like Rajasthan and coastal states like Goa where storage units can function in a cost effective and environment friendly manner while eyeing a 20 per cent Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) by 2025. 

This article is co-authored by Bhamini Rathore and Kanika Verma.