Yesterday, drone delivery heroes Zipline began drone delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to selected health facilities within its service area in Ghana. “This makes Ghana the first country in the world to deploy drones on a national scale to deliver COVID-19 vaccines,” says the press release.
It’s a first on a number of fronts. “On 23 February, The COVAX Facility shipped 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, from the Serum Institute of India (SII) from Pune, India to Accra, Ghana,” the release reports. “The arrival in Accra is the first batch delivered anywhere in the world by the COVAX Facility as part of an unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.”
Drone delivery of COVID vaccines will help to ensure rapid and equitable access of the vaccine across Ghana, even in remote areas. “Nearly half of Ghana’s population lives outside of cities, and those 12 million people are difficult to reach with time-limited, cold chain-dependent vaccines. Zipline’s network provides Ghana with a resilient, efficient and equitable distribution strategy.”
“We are proud to be part of this significant milestone in Ghana where our drone logistics network is able to provide on-demand, last-mile delivery of COVID-19 vaccine at scale across the country,” said Zipline CEO and co-founder Keller Rinaudo. “Not only does this make Ghana the world’s first country to deploy drones on a national scale for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, but is also a giant effort in ensuring equitable access and enabling Ghana to fully utilize its healthcare infrastructure to deliver vaccines. ”
The Snr. Vice President, Zipline Africa, Daniel Marfo said, “This, no doubt, is an exciting time for Africa. We are leading the way in using revolutionary drone technology to provide on-demand delivery of medical supplies and vaccines to our people who need them the most. For many countries, nationwide, equitable distribution — especially to remote and hard-to-reach regions — is a daunting challenge. But in Ghana, the established health infrastructure, and Zipline’s existing network, makes it possible to deliver to those regions quickly and safely.”
“We are honored to be doing this with our key partners, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the UPS Foundation. With this intervention, we believe Ghana will be in a position to distribute the vaccine as quickly and equitably as possible,” said the General Manager of Zipline Ghana, Naa Adorkor Yawson.
The vaccines are transferred to the Zipline distribution center by UPS, which is also providing in-country ground delivery support to the government’s regional cold stores. Once the vaccines arrive at the Zipline distribution center at Mpanya in the Ashanti region, they are then flown on-demand to health facilities in the region. Asuofua Health Center was the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines via Zipline’s drone delivery, and within the next few days, more health facilities and dosing centers will be added as directed by the Ghana Health Service.