• Ghana will become the first to broaden its reach by delivering COVAX vaccines using drones.
  • Zipline drones will parachute insulated packages containing doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

March 01, 2021: Zipline, UPS Foundation and the government of Ghana, entered into a deal to distribute up to 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccination sites in the coming weeks and months.

Last week, Emirates delivered the first shipment of 600,000 doses of COVAX vaccines to Ghana.

Also Read: Emirates takes off the first flight under UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to Ghana

The aim of the partnership, which was announced on February 26, is to improve both the speed and access of these precious vaccines, by providing on-demand delivery, even to the hardest-to-reach areas in Ghana.

Refrigerated trucks from the UPS fleet met the shipment on the tarmac, early on February 24, and ferried the vaccines safely to the National Cold Room, a central storage facility run by Ghana’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). In the coming days, UPS vehicles will transport doses onward to regional EPI cold-points and four Zipline “nests” – launch-bases for the company’s squadrons of autonomous medical delivery drones. This first volley of vaccines is expected to be distributed across Accra, Ashanti and the central region.

Zipline, supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UPS Foundation and others, has been a key link in Ghana’s health supply chain since April 2019. Since then, hubs in eastern Omenako, southern Mpanya, north-eastern Vobsi and western Sefwi Wiawso now dispatch fully-autonomous aircraft carrying blood, vaccines and other medical supplies to 1,000 health facilities, on-demand and around the clock.

Also Read: Zipline delivers first coronavirus test samples in Ghana

To date, Zipline Ghana has delivered more than one million EPI vaccine doses, many of them to parts of the country which are hard to reach overland, or which struggle with unreliable cold-chains.

With this new partnership, Zipline drones will parachute insulated packages containing doses of Covid-19 vaccine quickly, safely and precisely down to health facilities, helping to secure equitable access to protection from Covid-19 for people all across Ghana – “even in areas that do not have cold chain equipment,” said Naa Adorkor Yawson, general manager of Zipline Ghana.

UPS and Ghana Health Service delivery vans will tackle the ground-level portion of the vaccine roll-out. “This is a moment like no other and it demands the expertise that UPS has developed in Healthcare Logistics,” said Nicole Clifton, president of the UPS Foundation, in the statement.

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