COVID-19 Vaccine delivery through ‘Made in India’ drones starts in Northeast


The Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on October 4, 2021, launched an initiative to facilitate the delivery of Coronavirus vaccines to tough and hard-to-reach terrains of the Northeast through ‘Made in India’ drones.

According to the officials, the ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in Northeast (i-Drone) is in line with Central Government’s commitment to ‘Antyodaya’ in health- making healthcare accessible to the last citizen of India. i-Drone is a delivery model to make sure that life-saving COVID-19 vaccines reach everywhere.

Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Nagaland and Manipur, as well as the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

First ‘Make in India’ drone in South Asia:

The Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya during the launch informed that this is the first time that a ‘Make in India’ drone has been used in South Asia for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccine over an aerial distance of 15 km in 12-15 minutes from Bishnupur district hospital to Loktak lake, Karang island in Manipur at PHC.

The actual road distance between these locations is 26 km. He added that 10 beneficiaries with the help of this initiative will receive the first dose and eight will receive the second dose at the PHC.

Why delivery of vaccines through drones is significant?

•  Drones can be used in delivering life-saving vaccines, medicines and for the collection of blood samples.

•  The technology can also be used in critical situations and can prove to be a game-changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly the health supplies in difficult areas.

•  The initiative through Made in India drones will facilitate the vaccine delivery to hard-to-reach terrains of India.

•  Further incorporation of such drone activities into the national programmes will help deliver other vaccines and medical supplies as quickly as possible.

i-Drone delivery model: What do we know?

Despite the safe and effective vaccine administration in the States and UTs, the delivery of vaccines in tough and hard-to-reach terrains of India is still challenging. i-Drone has been designed to overcome such problems by deploying unmanned vehicles (UAV)/drones to remote areas.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had conducted an initial study in collaboration with IIT, Kanpur to test the capacity of drones to transfer and carry the vaccines safely.

The joint study was conducted in Nagaland, Manipur and Andaman, and Nicobar which further provided promising results on the basis of which the Civil Aviation Ministry, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, and other regulatory authorities granted permission to fly drones beyond the visual line of sight.

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