New Delhi: The national capital is expected to receive its first batch of coronavirus or COVID-19 vaccines by the end of December, officials of the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, the first vaccine storage facility in the city said. The statement comes as cold chain points across the country are remodelling themselves to support the storage of the coronavirus vaccine. Cold chain spaces are designed to keep COVID vaccines at the recommended temperature from the time of its manufacture till it reaches the target beneficiary. Also Read - Every Second Person in Delhi Infected With COVID, Latest Sero-survey Shows Signs of Herd Immunity

Notably, five vaccines are in advanced phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine, while the indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR has already started the phase-3 clinical trial. The Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which is testing and manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate, has said that it will apply for emergency marketing authorisation of the vaccine in little over a month’s time. The vaccine being manufactured by it can be stored at temperatures between 2 and 8-degree Celsius. Also Read - Banned Sikh Outfit Threatens to Disrupt Delhi's Power Supply on Republic Day, Security Tightened

The lowest minimum temperature at which vaccines can be kept to maintain the cold chain in most areas in the country is -25-degree Celsius as there is only one vaccine in India — Bharat Biotech’s Rotavirus vaccine — which needs to be stored at -20-degree Celsius. Also Read - Awaiting Centre's Instructions: Delhi Govt on 'Free Vaccine For All' Promise

“The vaccine doses would arrive at the storage units by the end of December. To store them in Delhi, we have demarcated a building on the campus which is currently undergoing refurbishment,” said BL Sherwal, medical director of the hospital. The central government has found a three-storey building (spawn over an area of 5,000 square metres) in the hospital premises to be suitable for storage of the vaccine.

“The Centre would provide us with deep refrigerators with storage capacity ranging from -20 to -70-degree Celsius. Besides, model 228, which are regular refrigerators used to store medical drugs, would also come along,” Sherwal told IANS.

Last month, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government had launched a massive exercise to create storage space for the vaccine when it arrives. The chief minister had issued instructions to prepare a 1.23 lakh litre cold chain storage capacity in the state by mid-December.

Official sources said additional cold chain storage facilities are being created in 26 districts in the state. Lucknow, Lakhimpur Kheri, Basti, Kanpur Dehat, Hathras, and Siddhartha Nagar already have sufficient space for keeping ice-lined refrigerators holding 36,901 litres. Arrangements in other districts are being made in a phased manner and the entire exercise to build cold chain space of 1,23,205 litres will be completed by December 15

(With agency inputs)