India starts using drones to deliver anti-Covid vaccines to remote regions

New Delhi, Oct 7 (EFE).- India has begun using drones to deliver anti-Covid vaccines to some of its most remote regions, such as mountains or islands, in an attempt to rapidly inoculate the entire adult population of the country.

The drone has become a key factor in the immunization campaign “in the areas within India with geographical locations which are hard to reach,” Samiran Panda, the head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told EFE.

He added that the vaccine supply could help prevent a “huge amount of deaths” in these areas as they do not have many facilities for intensive care or ventilators in case someone becomes seriously ill with the coronavirus.

Panda said that the first drone delivery was carried out on Monday in the northeastern state of Manipur, and initially the project will also be extended to the neighboring state of Nagaland as well as the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal.

The drone-based delivery of Indian-made vaccines was launched earlier this week by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who said that the use of the indigenously produced aerial vehicles – with the capacity to carry 900 doses in one trip – is a “game changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly health supplies in difficult areas.”

“India is a home to geographical diversities and drones can be used to deliver essentials to the last mile. We can use drones in delivering important life-saving medicines, collecting blood samples (…) (or) in critical situations,” he added.

During its first delivery flight, the drone flew 12 minutes to cover around 15 kilometers between a regional hospital and the Karang island in the middle of a lake.

The delivery allowed 10 beneficiaries to receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Our immunization program for COVID-19 has already exceeded all expectations. I strongly believe that this initiative will further help us achieve the highest possible immunization coverage,” the minister said.

So far India has administered a total of 926 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines, although just 256 million people have been fully inoculated, so that the target to immunize the entire adult population of around 950 million remains far off. EFE

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