How India is using a digital track and trace system to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach everyone
A system originally designed to do real-time monitoring of vaccine supply chains in India has now been adapted to help ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach as many people as possible.
- 3 February 2021
- 3 min read
- by Elinore Court
In many countries digital track and trace systems are now playing a vital part in the fight against the pandemic. These systems make it possible for people who have potentially come into contact with others who have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 to be quickly notified and told to isolate, helping to prevent the further spread of the virus. Now in India, a real-time track and trace system, originally developed to monitor the movement and storage of vaccines, has been adapted to help with the massive task of deploying COVID-19 vaccines to India’s population of 1.3 billion people, and ensure that no one misses out.
By strengthening the vaccine supply chain, eVIN aims to ensure equity in vaccine availability, which will be vital to ending the acute phase of the pandemic.
The Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) was developed in 2015 to address some of the challenges of transporting, storing and deploying the vaccines used in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme. By tracking each dose of vaccine as it travels through the country’s vast supply chain, the system is designed to provide real-time monitoring of the entire network, including critical cold chain equipment and sending alerts to staff when, for example, there are problems with refrigeration units.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this system has now been expanded beyond the cold chain to cover the entire journey of each vaccine dose, including details of each recipient due to receive the vaccine. This enhanced system, dubbed Co-WIN, not only makes it possible to keep track of who is getting vaccinated, but can also send out reminders to people to make sure they don’t miss their shot. The Co-WIN app notifies people who have registered to get their vaccines from a particular centre, which also gives a clear picture of how many doses are in stock and helps ensure each recipient gets both doses on time.
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In addition to this, eVIN is now also being used to track the supply of more than 100 essential COVID-19 materials in more than 1,500 health facilities across 8 states. By strengthening the vaccine supply chain, eVIN aims to ensure equity in vaccine availability, which will be vital to ending the acute phase of the pandemic. It integrates innovation with health care to provide health care workers with essential information, like stock and temperature patterns, temperature breaches and consumption patterns, allowing them to make rapid and informed decisions.
Part of the Government of India’s motivation in launching this new system, besides tracking COVID-19 vaccines, was to make sure that priority groups were being effectively targeted and to ensure full transparency. That includes using it to build up their safety surveillance and boosting vaccine safety mechanism, which was a key priority. The system is so detailed it can track whether someone has an adverse reaction, which means any potential issues with vaccine safety can be immediately investigated.
To help fill any gaps in the infrastructure and to ensure the system is able to take on the new tasks and challenges posed by COVID-19 Gavi provided US$ 4.6 million in funding support.