Covid-19: Godrej launches ultra-low temperature vaccine storage equipment


Jamshyd Godrej, CMD, Godrej & Boyce, said the depth of coverage and sustenance of Covid-19 vaccination drive will be key to ward off further spread of the pandemic.

Lack of ultra-low temperature cold chains has been one of the hurdles for launching mRNA based Covid-19 vaccines from companies like Pfizer-BioNTec and Moderna. But the country’s cold chain infrastructure is now ready to store these kind of vaccines that need to kept on temperatures ranging from -20°C to -80°C.

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Godrej Group company Godrej & Boyce has launched a range of medical refrigeration for these applications and is also expanding overall capacity to meet the growing demand from the healthcare sector in India and overseas.

The first two Covid-19 vaccines launched in India — Serum Institute-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin — have to be stored at 2°C to 8°C to maintain potency and efficacy. The Novavax and ZydusCadila’s ZyCoV-D, that are to be launched soon, too need similar storage temperatures. To meet this demand, capacity for refrigerators that can store vaccines at 2°C to 8°C temperature is being expanded.

Godrej Appliances, a business unit of Godrej & Boyce, on Tuesday added ultra-low temperature freezers to its portfolio. Kamal Nandi, business head and EVP, Godrej Appliances said that the company was currently deploying vaccine refrigerators, which maintain a precise temperature of 2°C to 8°C to store Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, being administered in India. This was part of the national tender it received in October 2020 and it included a Rs 95 crore order for 9,000 refrigerators and 3,000 medical freezers that have to be deployed by March 2021, Nandi said. The company has also has export orders worth Rs 55 crore.

Medical freezers, which maintain -20°C, are deployed for dilutants and ice packs needed for the last mile delivery in the Covid vaccination drive.

The vaccines run the risk of damage if they are subjected to fluctuations beyond the specified temperature band. Around 60% of the vaccines get wasted and impacts immunisation, Nandi said. As the vaccination drive enters the hinterlands of the country, the vaccine cold chain will become critical and Godrej has come up with solutions for the last mile delivery of the vaccine, he said.

A mobile clinic pilot carried out by the company in Assam will now be implemented across the country. Their medical refrigerators were used in Boat Clinics that travelled across islands for seven days and the equipment was able to hold temperature. These vans were also taken around Maharashtra and the equipment could hold on without power for three days and maintained precise temperature to keep the vaccines potent. Back-up systems like Liquid Co2 or Liquid No2 ensure safety of stock stored, by maintaining a stable temperature for over 48 hours, in case of a power outage or an unlikely system failure.

To meet the growing demand from the health sector, Godrej has expanded manufacturing capacity of 25 litres to 225 litres medical refrigerators for 2°C to 8°C temperature from 10,000 units to 35,000 units. The current capacity for ultra low temperature freezers of 100 litres to 400 litres is being ramped up from 12,000 units per annum to 30,000 units per annum. These products are in Rs 60,000- Rs 4 lakh price range.

Jamshyd Godrej, CMD, Godrej & Boyce, said the depth of coverage and sustenance of Covid-19 vaccination drive will be key to ward off further spread of the pandemic. Inadequate cold chain equipment is one of the key challenges, which can lead to inefficacy of the vaccines and cost human health, he said. The heathcare refrigeration segment in India is worth `2,000 crore. For Godrej, this segment accounts for around 5% of its turnover.

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