Zipline expands drone delivery of Covid-19 vaccines in Ghana
Drone delivery business Zipline has announced the launch of a fresh shipment of AstraZeneca vaccinations provided by the United Kingdom to chosen health facilities from four of its distribution centers across Ghana. Zipline is the world’s first and only national-scale drone delivery service.
As part of a larger commitment made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 conference in June, the United Kingdom (UK) would share 100 million vaccinations with the rest of the world, with 80 percent being delivered using the COVAX vaccine delivery system.
Earlier this year, Ghana received numerous shipments of vaccinations from the COVAX Facility, all of which were successfully delivered to their intended recipients.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 immunization campaign in Ghana in March of this year, the government has been utilizing Zipline’s autonomous medical drone services to provide quick and equal access throughout the country.
Nearly half of Ghana’s population lives outside of cities, and reaching those 12 million people with vaccinations that must be administered within a restricted time frame and under refrigeration is challenging.
Through its network of distribution centers, Zipline helps to enhance Ghana’s medical product distribution strategy by guaranteeing fair and efficient delivery of medical supplies, especially during times of public health emergency.
Zipline’s drone deliveries are focused on distant and difficult-to-reach locations in Ghana’s eastern, western, and northern regions, as well as five regions in the country’s northern half.
“It is really exciting news for us to see how the instant logistics service Zipline has perfected over the years is being deployed across the country as a response to managing this global pandemic. We, at Zipline, agree that no one is safe until everyone is safe, that is why we are honored to be part of the efforts of the government in making access to the COVID-19 vaccines hassle-free,” the General Manager of Zipline Ghana, Naa Adorkor Yawson, stated.
“Here again, our partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service has enabled the country to take lead in not only using drones to break the barrier of access to this critical vaccine but also using our infrastructure to enable equity in healthcare provision”, she added.
COVID-19 vaccinations will be distributed only through Zipline’s Sefwi Wiawso distribution center in the Western North Region, which includes the whole country’s Western North Region.
“As part of our agreement with the Government of Ghana, Zipline will be the sole distributor of these vaccines across all dosing centres in the entire Western North Region. With this, we can rest and be assured of safe and on-demand delivery to all the locations mapped out for us by the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service. We have, for almost a year now, been the sole distributor of all the programmed immunization vaccines in the region and this addition rightly proves what we are able to do”, said Kwasi Owusu Antwi, Health Systems Integration and Governmental Affairs Lead for Zipline.
Commenting on Zipline’s innovative and vital work, the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson said: “Zipline’s game-changing technology means that the UK-donated vaccines that arrived in Accra only three weeks ago have already reached front-line health workers, vulnerable people most at risk from infection and those waiting for their vital second jab. The UK is very proud to play a key part in the partnership between Ghana and Zipline as we continue to overcome and build back better from COVID-19.”
It is predicted that around one hundred additional vaccination centers would get their supplies by the end of this week, with certain towns, such as Etse in the Afram Plains area, having already received their supplies.
Ghana’s Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service have been major partners in the ongoing success of on-demand delivery of medical commodities and COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, particularly in hard-to-reach locations, as well as in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in remote areas.
Partnership between Zipline and Ghana, and response to COVID-19
Ghana initially collaborated with Zipline in 2019, establishing the company’s on-demand logistics service in four critical sites to serve nearly half of the country’s population as well as some of the country’s most difficult-to-reach communities. Because of this, Zipline Ghana has made over 105,000 deliveries, delivering more than 1 million medical supplies and more than 3 million vaccination doses since the beginning of 2019. (including for covid-19 and childhood diseases).
Accra and Kumasi were the first cities where Zipline began providing COVID-19 test samples beginning in April 2020. In this case, autonomous drones were utilized to make frequent long-distance deliveries into highly populated metropolitan regions, marking the first time in history that this has occurred. Drones were also utilized for the first time to carry COVID-19 test samples, which was a first in the field of medicine.
As part of the presidential election preparations, Ghana will use Zipline to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to poll workers in time for the presidential election in December 2020. Following the government’s request for help, Zipline began providing personal protective equipment (PPE) in less than 24 hours and completed the delivery in less than 48 hours, enabling polling stations to open securely for hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians to cast ballots in the elections.
How does Zipline’s drone delivery system work?
The Zipline distribution center, which combines elements of a medical fulfillment warehouse and a drone airport, is capable of delivering more than two tons of temperature-controlled medicine on a weekly basis to any location within an over 8,000 square mile service region. Each aircraft is capable of flying 100 miles round trip in severe winds and rain, day or night, to perform on-demand deliveries in 30 to 45 minutes on average, depending on the weather. In three countries, Zipline’s drones have flown more than 12 million autonomous miles in order to deliver more than 2 million doses of vaccine, units of blood, and vital and life-saving pharmaceuticals to more than a thousand health institutions servicing a total of more than 25 million people.
In the United States, Zipline has collaborated with a prominent healthcare system, Novant Health, to launch the country’s first hospital-based drone logistics operation for pandemic response, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Over the course of the past year, Novant Health has used Zipline to conduct contactless drone deliveries of more than 18,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline medical teams throughout the Charlotte metropolitan area. As its reach expands across Africa, Zipline has announced that it would soon begin medical delivery services in Kaduna State and Cross River State in Nigeria as part of its expansion strategy.
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