Govt deploys made-in-India drones to transport Covid vaccines


For the first time in the country, a made-in-India drone transported Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, travelling an aerial distance of 15 km in less than 15 minutes from the Bishnupur district hospital to the primary health care centre at Loktak lake, Karang island, in Manipur. The road distance between these locations is 26 k.m.

Launching the ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone), Mansukh Mandaviya, Union minister for health and family welfare, said it was the first time that a made-in-India drone was being used in South Asia to transport the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Drones can be used in delivering important life-saving medicines and collecting blood samples in critical situations and in tough geographical areas,” Mandaviya said.

The i-Drone was designed to overcome vaccine delivery challenges in hard-to-reach terrains of India, by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to these areas. Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur, Nagaland, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“India is home to geographical diversities and drones can be used to deliver essentials to the last mile … This technology may prove a game changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly health supplies in difficult areas,” the minister said.

ICMR conducted an initial study in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, to test the capacity of drones to carry and transfer vaccines safely. The study was conducted in Manipur, Nagaland, and Andaman and Nicobar.

The studies provided promising results, after which the ministry of civil aviation, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and other regulatory authorities granted permission to fly drones beyond the visual line of sight.

The country had administered 91.41 crore Covid-19 vaccines till Monday evening. There were 20,799 new cases reported on Monday, taking the active caseload to 2,64,458. The recovery rate stood at 97.89%. Weekly case positivity rate was at 1.63%, while daily positivity rate was 2.10%.

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