Drones Transport Thousands of Covid Vaccines to Remote African Villages

Drones Transport Thousands of Covid Vaccines to Remote African Villages

A fleet of drones buzzes over dense forest and cocoa plantations en route to Bosomtwe District, Ghana. Upon arrival at their destination, the plane dropped a thermal package containing Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

Ummatimes - In the coming days, these drones will deliver tens of thousands of injections of a vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech to some of Ghana's most rugged remote villages. The move is part of efforts to provide fairer access to vaccine doses.

Every four minutes, from dawn to dusk, a drone operated by company Zipline will depart from its distribution center carrying the vaccine. Zipline is tasked with bringing vaccine supplies to 40 percent of Ghana's population.

"When you go out of the city (Ghana's capital), you're going to places where shipping can be a nightmare," said Daniel Marfo, Zipline's senior vice president for Africa.

This is not the first time Zipline has worked with Covid vaccines and supplies. However, the messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine has strict requirements for storage at very cold temperatures. Until ready for use, doses of Pfizer-BioNTech must be stored at -90°C or cooler than the lowest temperature recorded on Earth's surface.

Ghana is one of many low-income countries that lack the equipment and infrastructure to store and deliver this vaccine. "We deliver vaccines to places where road accessibility is very poor, where changing weather conditions can cut off people's access, where bodies of rivers or lakes separate people from the mainland," said Marfo.

Ghana gets its vaccine supply thanks to the donation of Pfizer-BioNTech injections from the United States through the WHO-supported Covax program. Ghana has used Zipline to make deliveries. In total, Zipline will transport 50,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech across nine districts of the Ashanti region known for gold, cocoa, coffee and oil palm plantations.

Ghana's health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, is committed to distributing the Covid-19 vaccine equitably to all Ghanaians, regardless of where they live. "Through this partnership, we have implemented a new vaccine delivery model to ensure the Covid-19 vaccine is quickly accessible across the country," said Kwaku.

This program is an important step in increasing immunity to Covid around the world.