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Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Assam: 1,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses found frozen, authorities launch probe

Officials said the vaccines were found in that condition on the morning of January 16, right after India's vaccination drive was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: January 20, 2021 12:58:44 pm
Maharashtra covid, Maharashtra covid vaccine, Maharashtra covid vaccination, Maharashtra healthcare workers, indian express newsThe government has asked everyone to strictly follow the norms of physical distancing and always wear face masks in public. Local authorities have been instructed to impose heavy penalties on people not following the rules. (Representational)

At least 1,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine were found in a partially frozen condition at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) in Assam’s Cachar district on Saturday, leading authorities to order a probe into the incident.

Officials said the vaccines were found in that condition on the morning of January 16, right after India’s vaccination drive was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The spoiled vaccines — 100 dials containing 1,000 doses — are currently at the central storage in Cachar district, and will be shifted to Dispur.

According to Cachar District Immunisation Officer Arun Debnath, the incident can possibly be traced back to a glitch in the Ice-Lined Refrigerators (ILR), which are specially designed for storage of vaccines and other medical products.

“The vaccines are meant to be stored in the ILR at a controlled temperature between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius,” Debnath said. “If the temperature drops, the machine sends a message to the mobile phone app. However, the officers received no such message. So, there must have been a technical fault in the ILR machine.”

According to Debnath, the vaccines arrived from the cold chain central storage of Cachar district on the evening of January 15. “They were found frozen the next morning,” he said, adding that a show-cause notice has been served by the National Health Mission (NHM) Assam to the officers in-charge.

“This is a very unfortunate incident,” said Additional Chief Medical and Health Officer, SMCH, one of the officials who the notice was served to. “We are preparing a response.”

On Tuesday — the third day of the vaccination drive — a total of 2,043 beneficiaries received the jab in Assam. This takes the cumulative total number of beneficiaries who have received the vaccine to 7,585. Currently, the state has 1,384 active cases of the novel coronavirus.

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