Zipline starts Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery in Ghana

zipline drone delivery vaccine

Zipline has taken another stride forward in its innovative instant medical logistics work by making a successful long-range drone delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, requiring ultra-cold-chain treatment, to destinations in Ghana.

Zipline’s groundbreaking drone delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines – which must be kept at temperatures of between -90°C to -60°C – opens the way for 50,000 doses to be similarly supplied to people throughout Ghana, and even more beyond. Pfizer and BioNTech, which worked with Zipline to develop and test the end-to-end delivery process, have committed a total of 2 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries through 2022.

The trio’s breakthrough with long-distance drone deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines requiring constant cold chain conditions promises to further expand Zipline’s already considerable achievements in Africa.

The company has distributed over 220,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by various manufacturers throughout Ghana, the first to do so at a national scale. That positions Zipline to become an invaluable partner to Pfizer and BioNTech’s efforts to collaborate with both public and private organizations in Africa, and around the globe, to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. 

“Delivery to people in remote and hard-to-reach places is a primary challenge for global vaccination,” said Keller Rinaudo, Zipline cofounder and CEO. “In partnership with Pfizer and BioNTech, we have created a solution to address this potential pain point head on. Together, we are working to help transform vaccine distribution into a more effective, equitable process.”

Since its initial 2016 operation in Rwanda with tightly focused objectives, Zipline has continually expanded its instant medical logistics activities to other African nations like Ghana and Niger. It has meanwhile pursued drone deliveries to remote communities in the US, North Carolina, and this week announced a rollout of medical drops to patients in the Salt Lake City area.

Through that continued innovation, the company and its automated, on-demand drone delivery operation have become vital to getting COVID-19 vaccines, blood products, cancer treatments, and an entire range of life-saving medical supplies to some of the most difficult places to access in the world both quickly and effectively. 

That now also applies to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

“Pfizer has a history of investing with partners to improve access to medicines and vaccines in the most remote areas of the world,” says Caroline Roan, Pfizer’s chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of global health and social impact. “We are proud of this collaboration with Zipline to implement breakthrough solutions that help advance equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for hard to reach and underserved populations.”

To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine been distributed to 155 countries and territories around the world, at times in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s COVAX program. Using the cold chain-respecting logistics and delivery system developed with Pfizer and BioNTech, Zipline will distribute their COVID-19 vaccines across Ghana, as well as those produced by other manufacturers.

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