Zipline, UPS partner government to deliver first COVID-19 vaccines to health facilities

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Zipline has announced a successful collaboration with UPS and The UPS Foundation to assist the government of Ghana in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

Supported by the coordination of UPS Healthcare with vaccine manufacturers, UPS deliveries of initial vaccines arrived this week in Ghana from the COVAX Facility and transportation will begin swiftly within the country.

As part of the government’s planned vaccination rollout, Zipline will then provide on-demand delivery of doses directly to health facilities.

The General Manager of Zipline Ghana, Naa Adorkor Yawson, said, “Zipline is honoured to be a key partner of the Ministry of Health in the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines. Our services enable equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine to all Ghanaians, even in areas that do not have cold chain equipment. On-demand delivery service also prevents waste and spoilage of the vaccines by only sending the exact amount required by each facility at any given time. Zipline has the capacity to deliver vaccines, even those that require ultra-low temperatures, to the over 1,000 health facilities that we currently serve”.

“With supply limited for the foreseeable future, COVID-19 vaccines are arguably the world’s most precious commodity this year,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “With every dose being so important, it is critical to ensure that our partner countries have the necessary support and tools to deliver vaccines effectively and efficiently to those who need them. This new support builds on the long-standing partnership between Gavi and the UPS Foundation, which is focused on ensuring that every child in Gavi-supported countries receives lifesaving vaccines.”

The Ghana Health Service, UPS Healthcare, and Zipline will collaborate to ensure the safe handling and delivery of the vaccines within the delivery schedule. The Ghana Health Service will deploy their delivery vans, with UPS doing the same to ensure swift delivery while Zipline receives the vaccines and delivers via drones to hard-to-reach areas within their operational areas.

On February 23, 2021, COVAX shipped 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine, from the Serum Institute of India (SII) from Pune, India to Accra, Ghana, arriving on the morning of Wednesday, February 24.

The government of Ghana integrated Zipline’s medical drone delivery service into its health supply chain in April 2019 with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UPS Foundation, and other partners.

How Zipline works

Each week, a single Zipline distribution center – a combination medical fulfillment warehouse and drone airport—is capable of the micro-targeted delivery of more than two tons of temperature-controlled medicine to any point across an almost 8,000 square mile service area.

Each aircraft can fly 100 miles round trip, in strong winds and rain, day or night, to make on-demand deliveries in 30 to 45 minutes on average.

Zipline’s drones have flown more than 5 million autonomous miles to deliver more than 1.5 million doses of vaccines, units of blood, and critical and life-saving medications to more than a thousand health facilities serving more than 25 million people across three countries.

Zipline recently announced that it will soon launch medical delivery services in Kaduna State in Nigeria as its footprint grows across Africa. Zipline is preparing to use its existing and planned distribution capacity in Rwanda, Nigeria, and the United States to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

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