As the development of a coronavirus vaccine is underway, Indian scientists are working on a vaccine that could be stored in a warmer climate, eliminating the need to be transported and distributed by cold chains.
Most vaccines are handled in the 2C and 8C temperature range, and the Covid-19 vaccines that are currently being developed and tested require temperatures well below 0C, according to the World Health Organisation.
A vaccine that does not depend on cold-chains could result in easier transportation to the country’s remote areas, as scientists claim it can be stored at 100C for 90 minutes, at 70C for about 16 hours, and at 37 for more than a month.
Raghavan Varadarajan, a biophysicist and professor at the Indian Institute of Science, and his team have tested this vaccine on animals, and have “got good results”, according to a report by BBC.
The team is waiting for funding to begin safety and toxicity tests on humans.
“I am hopeful that after this study, newer avenues would open up with regards to having cold-chain independent vaccines,” said Dr Renu Swarup, secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology.
“The possibility to transport vaccines outside the cold chain for the very last mile to reach the most remote populations in resource-limited settings is very helpful. It can be particularly helpful for mass vaccination campaigns when hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses need to be transported to several vaccination points within a short period of time,” said Julien Potet, policy adviser (vaccines) of Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign.
“India has largely managed vaccines and immunisation drives well,” says B Thiagarajan, managing director of Blue Star, which has a major share of pharmaceutical cold chain products.
“When it comes to vaccines which have to be stored at temperatures between 2 to 8C, we are well equipped. If the vaccine has to be kept at -40C, there will be a problem,” he added.