However, the vaccines available in India don’t have vaccine vial monitors, which would add around Rs 50 per vial.
“As India steps up vaccination, especially in rural parts, the vaccine vial monitor would be the best tool to indicate if a vial is usable or not,” said Dr Sunil Khaparde, former central health ministry official who was associated with the Pulse Polio drive in the initial days.
Vaccinators in India are trained to check the ‘bindi’ mark before giving vaccines to children. In 1998, VVMs were first used in the oral polio vaccine and Dr Khaparde believes they played a role in helping eradicate polio. “While India had 1,934 cases in 1998, the use of VVMs coincided with a drop since 1999 when 1,126 cases were reported,” said Dr Khaparde.
On July 14, Temptime, the American company licenced by the World Health Organisation to manufacture VVMs, wrote to India’s health minister Mansukh Mandaviya about using VVM to Covid vaccines available in India.
“The people of India have benefited from the use of VVM in the universal immunisation programme for over 20 years. VVM’s ability to indicate heat damage to vaccines, is a critical enabling tool in the immunisation programme,” said the letter.
BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare said Covid vaccines at the moment have to be used within four hours of opening the vial. According to the Temptime letter to Mandaviya, the overall cost impact of VVM is just 0.3% of the Covid-19 vaccine vial cost.