In our region vaccines are at a premium. There are simply not enough. As impatient as we might be about that, imagine living in a remote country or even a remote rural county where the delivery is challenging. The good news is that there are some new options for delivery that may allow the vaccines to maintain their refrigeration while expediently delivering them to remote areas of our country and to other parts of the world.
In a recent article in Fast Company Adele Peters offers us a solution for the delivery of these vaccines. Here are some points of the article noting an effective way to provide vaccines and healthy outcomes for millions of individuals world-wide.
For a remote health clinic—whether in Africa or in a rural part of the U.S.—one of the challenges presented by the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines is their temperature requirements: The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-cold freezers needed to store them cost $10,000 or more, and storing the vaccines in dry ice is logistically complicated. Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t have to be quite as cold but still needs to be frozen until it’s ready for use. Getting the vaccines to remote locations quickly, therefore, is key. To do that, some vaccines will soon begin to be delivered to locations by drone.
Zipline, a drone delivery service that first launched in Rwanda in 2014, making emergency deliveries of blood for transfusions to rural clinics, will be ready to begin delivering COVID-19 vaccines in the countries where it currently operates—Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, and the rural U.S.—this spring. The company will store vaccines in ultra-cold freezers at its distribution centers, and when a clinic needs vaccines, the drones can make a delivery within roughly half an hour.
“Because we will have ultra-low freezers at our distribution centers, it allows rural and remote health facilities to bypass the need for having the freezers themselves,” says Justin Hamilton, head of global communications and public affairs at Zipline. “And because we make deliveries on demand, we can send the precise amount needed at that very moment. They don’t have to worry about inventory. They don’t have to worry about having too much or having too little—we’re sending it right away.”
Here is the link to the rest of the article. Who would have thought that drones would provide for the life and health of rural communities all over America? As tragic as COVID-19 has been in its impact, we once again are experiencing ingenious options that will be an incredible help to rural clinics and to remote countries that desperately need life-saving vaccines. This is a significant opportunity for expanding the distribution of the vaccines to those who would have to wait many more months or even years before the vaccines could be delivered. What a great way to use this wonderful technology! Kudos to the folks at Zipline.