An electronic network for distribution will help give the durability of protection and address long-term safety concerns, says well-known vaccinologist Professor Peter Hotez on India’s plan to track vaccine development, procurement and distribution on a digital platform.

“Local distribution, clinical testing, monitoring, distribution, pharmacovigilance; each presents its own unique challenge and of course, multiply that by more than one billion people,” he said when asked about how big a challenge will it be for India to vaccinate its population against Covid-19.

The government of India has told Parliament about the electronic vaccine intelligence network and how it intends to bank on a digital platform to ensure vaccination. Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) system, which provides real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country, is being enhanced to address the needs for distribution and tracking of Covid-19 vaccine.

The Nation Expert group on vaccines is the body that has been tasked to fine-tune this strategy on vaccine distribution. Using an existing digital platform like eVIN is to India’s advantage.

eVIN NOT A NEW CONCEPT

The eVIN is not a new concept. Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network is an indigenously developed technology system in India that digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smart phone application. India has been using this technology in aiding its universal immunisation programme since 2015. United Nations Development programme is supporting eVIN since 2017. It is also supported by GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance and the project aims to streamline and regularise the vaccine flow network by ensuring data-driven and efficient management of the immunisation supply chain.

WHAT DOES eVIN DO?

eVIN aims to strengthen the evidence base for improved policy-making in vaccine delivery, procurement and planning for new antigens in India. eVIN provides an integrated solution to address widespread inequities in vaccine coverage by supporting state governments in overcoming constraints of infrastructure, monitoring and management information systems and human resources, often resulting in overstocking and stock-outs of vaccines in storage centres.

eVIN USES TECHNOLOGY, GOVERNANCE AND HUMAN RESOURCES

The integrated solution uses technology to facilitate evidence-based decision-making by making available online real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperature through the eVIN application software and temperature loggers. It also is a useful tool to ensure efficient vaccine logistics management by systemising record keeping through standardising stock and distribution registers and identifying gaps and improving clarity on vaccine cold chain network. It is effective in drawing attention to infrastructure upgrades, developing standard operating procedures and encouraging good practices.

The aim of eVIN is to also empower the state cold chain network by building the capacities of government cold chain handlers and deploying vaccine and cold chain managers in every district for constant support to estimate vaccine requirements, supervise cold chain handlers and coordinate with cold chain technicians across the district. eVIN empowers the cold chain handlers by building technical capacities and providing a robust decision-making tool for cold chain managers through a complete overview of vaccine replenishment times, supply and consumption patterns. By streamlining the vaccine flow network, eVIN is a powerful contribution to strengthening health systems and ensures equity through easy and timely availability of vaccines to all children.

WELL-OILED TECHNOLOGICAL PLATFORM

eVIN is digitising vaccine stocks at all 27,000 vaccine storage centres across all districts of 29 states and 7 union territories of India, facilitating real-time monitoring of storage temperatures by installation of nearly 50,000 temperature loggers, building capacity of nearly 37,000 government personnel for vaccine and cold chain logistic management on eVIN, deploying vaccine and cold chain managers in every district for constant supportive supervision.

SUCCESS STORY

Up until now, eVIN has been implemented in more than 21 states and union territories in India. The UNDP says that it has achieved over 80% reduction in instances of vaccine stock-outs and ensured improved availability of adequate and potent UIP vaccines to all targeted children and pregnant women. It has also achieved reduction in utilisation of vaccines from 3,053 lakh doses in pre-eVIN period to 2,149 lakh doses in post-eVIN period across the initial 12 eVIN states, mostly on account of wastage and mismanagement, resulting into savings of approximately 900 lakh (90 million) doses of vaccines. It has supported a vaccine availability rate of over 99% at all cold chain points and systemised processes by initiating corrective action to revise target population for cold chain points that were earlier out-of-sync, improve vaccine storage infrastructure and encourage effective planning and distribution.

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