As the country prepares for COVID-19 vaccination, trials are underway in Uttarakhand to see if the shots can be delivered in remotely situated areas of Uttarakhand using 'drones'.
In the first vaccine trial held in November, a fixed-wing drone carried a box of medicines in an icebox from Dehradun to Mussoorie. The entire distance was covered by the drone in an hour.
The director of Uttarakhand Drone Application and Research Centre (DARC), Amit Sinha, said that this could be a cost-effective way to deliver vaccines.
"Transporting vials of vaccine across short distances and to inaccessible and treacherous zones is the first among many targets," added Sinha as reported by The Times Of India.
Back in 2019 in Tehri district in Uttarakhand, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was used to transport blood samples for a distance of 36 kilometres from a remote primary health centre (PHC) to the district hospital.
The same distance would have been covered by road in 70 to 100 minutes. But the drone managed to cover the distance in a span of just 18 minutes. Vaccines, however, need to be stored at temperatures as low as -5 to -80 degrees Celsius.
Sinha further said that they are working on ways to control the temperature. Till now, they have managed to get the temperature down to 5 to 7 degrees Celsius. Further, the state is seeking technical guidance from experts.
Sinha added that the state will need permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) before the process of delivering the shots to remote areas by drones starts.
For vaccination, Uttarakhand has prepared a list of 94,000 healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors, paramedical staff, medical students, and sent it to the Centre.