BBMP looks to find storage space for Covid vaccine

BBMP desperately looking to find storage space for Covid vaccine

Officials plan to store the vaccine at Hebbal’s Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals

Representative image. Credit: AFP.

Eight months after the deadly pandemic first hit the city, the BBMP is still looking out for facilities to store the Covid-19 vaccine.

Opposition leaders are accusing the civic body of missing the opportunity to build its own infrastructure as it failed to include the facility in its Rs 10,000-crore budget.

Officials plan to store the vaccine at Hebbal’s Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB), where the three walk-in coolers store eight crore animal vaccine doses administered to 95 lakh cattle and as many sheep, 45 lakh buffaloes, 60 lakh goats and 3.2 lakh pigs in the state.

Existing facilities

The BBMP has 10 ice-lined refrigerators at the Dasappa Hospital vaccine store, from where vaccines are transported to 141 primary health centres, 24 maternity homes and six referral hospitals.

In addition, it also has eight ice-lined refrigerators and 42 refrigerators in six referral hospitals and 24 maternity homes. The 141 PHCs have a combination of small and large ice-lined refrigerators.

“Only around 8 to 10 lakh Covid vaccine doses can be stored at these facilities as other vaccines for children are also stored as a part of the routine immunisation programme,” said a BBMP official overseeing cold storage preparations in the Palike.

“Around 10 days ago, we inspected the three walk-in coolers at IAHVB in Hebbal and apprised the state health department of the available space,” the official added.

Another official said it costs about Rs 50 lakh to set up a facility similar to the one at the Hebbal institute.

However, BBMP Opposition leader Abdul Wajid pointed out that Rs 49 crore is available with the civic body for Covid work.

“The fund is an accumulation of Rs 25 lakh taken from the ward development fund from 198 wards,” he further noted. “Another Rs 20 lakh from each ward was allocated for Covid that amounts to Rs 39.60 crore,” Wajid said, asking why the civic body could not rent, buy or install walk-in coolers and ice-lined refrigerators exclusively for Covid vaccine.

No reply from BBMP

BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad did not respond to calls or messages from DH.

IAHVB director Dr S M Byre Gowda said that the three coolers at the institute have a combined capacity of 150,000 litres.

“One cooler is used for a month in six months for the animal vaccination programme to store up vaccine for foot and mouth disease,” Dr Gowda said, adding it can be spared to store Covid vaccine.

Keeping all options open

The state health department is working with other government agencies like the animal husbandry and horticulture departments, Karnataka State Drugs, Logistics and Warehousing Society and Food Corporation of India to keep their coolers and refrigerators ready in case they are needed to store vaccines and syringes.