Vaccination may soon be delivered through drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to rural and remote corners of the country. HLL Infra Tech Services Limited has called for an expression of interest (EOI) on behalf of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the supply of drugs and vaccines through UAVs at some locations in the country.
The company has listed out the specification of UAV requirement and said that :
- It should be able to cover a minimum aerial distance of 35km at a vertical altitude of a minimum of 100 metres.
- Take off vertically and carry a minimum payload of 4kg, and capable of returning to home base.
At the same time, parachute-based delivery is a strict no-no.
First Medical Drone Delivery Trial
Meanwhile, a consortium led by Bengaluru's Throttle Aerospace System (TAS) will carry out India's first official beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical drone delivery experiment in Gauribidanur from June 18, reported The Times of India. Though TAS had got a nod from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for delivering objects way back in March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had led to delays in permits from other agencies.
On Friday, June 11, e-commerce company Flipkart said it has partnered with the Telangana government for the delivery of COVID vaccines and other essential supplies to remote areas in the state. As part of the project, BVLOS drone flights will be used for the delivery of vaccines using the identified airspace in Vikarabad.
Countries Where Drone Deliveries Are Available
Drones have been delivering medical goods for several years now in several countries around the world. The charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) tested them during a tuberculosis outbreak in Papua New Guinea in 2014, and to help tackle Ebola in Liberia.
In Rwanda, Zipline drones were used to deliver blood to rural clinics, with the vehicles now carrying about 35 per cent of the blood transfusion supply outside the capital.
Zipline drones have also been dropping off AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana, and will soon start delivering them in Rwanda and the United States, with Nigeria also planned for later this year. Recently, Bostwana began the use of medical delivery drones in order to bring down maternal mortality in the country.