Zipline Completes World’s First Long-range Drone Delivery Of Vaccines In Ghana

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Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics, has successfully completed the first long-range drone delivery of both authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines requiring ultra-cold-chain in Ghana.

This achievement is attributed to the collaboration of Zipline, Pfizer and BioNTech, which paved the way for automated, on-demand delivery of first mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana.

In addition to financial support for the pilot program, Pfizer and BioNTech provided technical assistance and know-how specific to the management and storage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine at -90°C to -60°C.

In a press statement, made available to LEADERSHIP, the co-founder and CEO of Zipline, Keller Rinaudo said, delivery to people in remote and hard-to-reach places is a primary challenge for global vaccination, adding that, “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.”

Making COVID-19 vaccines accessible to an entire country’s population presents logistical challenges for many governments and healthcare organizations, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, says Rinaudo, even as Zipline is helping to address these challenges by implementing an end-to-end distribution model that safely delivers any COVID-19 vaccine to all corners of a country through its autonomous aircraft.

Chief sustainability officer and senior vice president, Global Health and Social Impact, Pfizer Inc, Caroline Roan said Pfizer has a history of investing with partners to improve access to medicines and vaccines in the most remote areas of the world.

“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,” Roan added.

Pfizer Cluster Lead, West Africa, Olayinka Subair said, the company’s focus is always on the patients as It deploys resources to bring treatments that extend and significantly improve their lives.

“We consistently seek to collaborate with stakeholders to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care in communities all around. At this time of extraordinary focus on science and dedication to patients, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, like all COVID-19 vaccines on the market, requires storage and transportation in controlled temperature conditions. Distributing these types of products rapidly and at national scale has no precedent in modern public health. Pfizer-BioNTech and Zipline have successfully tested the end-to-end supply chain from Pfizer’s Puurs facility in Belgium to a last-mile health post in rural Ghana.

“By uniting transformational technology, cutting-edge science and indomitable human spirit, Pfizer is pioneering biopharmaceutical innovations to do more than just treat difficult diseases, we are opening new worlds of medical possibilities in support of our purpose: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. And we’re applying equal parts intelligence, passion and ingenuity to ensure these breakthroughs are accessible to all,” Subair said.

Zipline, Pfizer and BioNTech tested and validated the end-to-end model for delivery of mRNA vaccines with ultra-cold-chain requirements, and Zipline will now utilize it to distribute Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines, as well as COVID-19 vaccines from all manufacturers, to regions across Ghana.

The companies share a goal to help ensure the safe and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer and BioNTech have committed two billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries through 2022 and are actively working on collaborating with both public and private organizations to accelerate the vaccine rollout worldwide.

To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has reached 2 billion vaccines to 155 countries and territories in every region of the world, including through its agreement with COVAX.

Nearly 175,000 COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers have been distributed across Ghana to-date by Zipline, the first company to do so through an autonomous aircraft at national scale. Zipline plans to distribute millions more as supply becomes available. Through this partnership, Pfizer, BioNTech and Zipline have brought together their expertise and capabilities to help advance more equitable vaccine distribution.

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