April 7

Drones Are Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines to Underserved Communities

By Jacob Muñoz

In the race to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, countries need to come up with effective plans to reach people in both bustling metropolitan cities and rural areas with less health care investment. Right here in the United States, states such as Illinois, Michigan and Alabama have enlisted the help of their National Guards to provide vaccinations in rural counties.

A potential solution to minimize disparities could be right above our heads—literally. The San Francisco-based company Zipline, founded in 2014, recently began delivering Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine doses using autonomous drones, as part of the COVAX initiative, a project working to expedite production and equitable worldwide access to coronavirus vaccines, as well as tests and treatments. Operations have already begun in Ghana, where Zipline has four distribution centers and plans to disseminate 2.5 million doses over the next year, and are soon to start in Zipline’s other markets of the United States and Rwanda. Deliveries in Nigeria are planned for later this year.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine (link opens in a new window)

Coronavirus, Health Care, Technology
innovation, rural development, vaccines