While the world is optimistic about the new COVID-19 vaccines, getting the heat-sensitive materials to health centers to ensure that they can be distributed fairly and efficiently has been a challenge for across the globe. Now, drone delivery heroes Zipline have announced that they will be able to deliver COVID-19 vaccines by drone – making the vaccines more accessible to rural areas.
Zipline’s new end-to-end, cold chain distribution capability is being developed with a leading manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines. Zipline will be able to distribute all leading COVID-19 vaccines by drone in each of the countries where Zipline operates. The new distribution capability “will allow health facilities to bypass the need for ultra-low freezers by receiving on-demand deliveries of the precise number of COVID-19 vaccines they require at any time, safely and compliantly within the required temperature profile,” says the Zipline announcement.
“Where you live shouldn’t determine whether or not you get a COVID-19 vaccine. Rural areas across the world are being hit hard by this virus,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “These communities face great challenges. We can help health systems bypass infrastructure and supply chain challenges through instant delivery.”
“…COVID-19 vaccines may require dry ice, or highly specialized freezers typically seen in larger, well-equipped medical labs and research centers. Transporting, storing, and distributing ultra-low cold-chain COVID-19 vaccines in challenging-to-reach places with no interruptions in the end-to-end supply chain process will require innovative delivery solutions,” says Zipline.
Transporting fragile medical materials like blood supplies or medications in remote areas is one that Zipline has been solving around the world. As the company annuonces this new capability, is has already delivered more than 1,000,000 routine vaccines. The new end-to-end, cold-chain distribution system for frozen and ultra-low temperature medical supplies and pharmaceuticals will leverage the national-scale medical drone delivery service that Zipline has already established.
Zipline explains how the system will work:
A core objective is to create a flexible temperature-controlled transportation solution that allows for the delivery of the precise amounts of product needed at a given time. This type of distribution is intended to help increase vaccine access in challenging-to-reach areas while lowering the potential for waste and eliminating the need for on-site cold storage.
In the United States and Africa, Zipline will add ultra-low refrigeration capacity at its distribution centers and conduct end-to-end thermal validation from the point of pick-up to the patient. The company expects to be ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to rural and difficult-to-reach communities in the markets where it operates in April of 2021. This work builds on the experience and expertise provided by Zipline’s partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Expansion to Nigeria
Along with the announcement of the development with a leading COVID-19 vaccine provider, Zipline announced that they will expand to Kaduna State Nigeria to help transform the access and availability of routine and emergency medicine.
The revolutionary new service will use drones to make on-demand deliveries of hundreds of different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications. The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from three distribution centers—each equipped with 30 drones—and deliver to more than 1,000 health facilities serving millions of people across Kaduna State. Together, all three distribution centers will be capable of microtargeting the delivery of more than six tons of medical products each week over more than 60,000 square kilometers.
The Government of Kaduna State hopes to “put almost all of its more than eight million citizens within minutes of a lifesaving medical delivery by drone.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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