With a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) round the corner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken up the offer of his counterpart in Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, for setting up of a specialised refrigerated vaccine transportation plant in Gujarat to ensure last mile drug delivery to villages all over the country.
According to official sources based in Delhi and Ahmedabad, Luxembourg firm B Medical Systems is sending a high-level team to Gujarat next week to set up a vaccine cold chain including solar vaccine refrigerators, freezers and transport boxes. As the setting up of a full-fledged plant will require nearly two years, the company has decided to start by getting only the refrigeration boxes from Luxembourg and source the best content from the domestic market under the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” programme. The refrigerated transport boxes will be able to deliver vaccine between four degrees Celsius to 20 below zero even though the Luxembourg-based company has the technology to transport vaccine 80 below zero degrees Celsius.
While external affairs minister S Jaishankar is personally monitoring the Luxembourg proposal, Santosh Jha, India’s ambassador to the European Union, virtually met CEO and deputy CEO of the company on November 20 to finalise the arrangements with Gujarat.
While the refrigerated boxes, powered by solar, kerosene, gas and electricity, are expected to be ready for delivery by March 2021, the B Medical Systems company will set up a full-fledged plant in Gujarat in phase II for not only supplying to Indian requirement but also exporting it to other countries.
Official sources said the proposal was made by Bettel to PM Modi during the first bilateral summit on November 19. Given the concerns over last-mile delivery of vaccines in India, PM Modi immediately grabbed at the opportunity and the proposal was pushed at both ends with the company establishing contact with Gujarat government.
B Medical Systems is a Luxembourg based pioneer in the medical equipment industry. It was founded in 1979 when the World Health Organization (WHO) approached the mother company Electrolux in Vianden to provide a solution for safely storing and transporting vaccines all over the world. The company is also a world leader in blood bank and plasma storage refrigerators.