By Oluwafunke Ishola
A medical logistic company, Zipline, in collaboration with Pfizer and BioNTech has successfully completed the first long-range drone delivery of authorised mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, requiring ultra-cold-chain in Ghana.
The Pfizer Cluster Lead, West Africa, Olayinka Subair, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Lagos.
Subair said that the partnership of the companies pioneered a new model for vaccine distribution of tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Ghana.
He said that in addition to financial support for the pilot program, Pfizer and BioNTech provided technical assistance and know-how specific to the management and storage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine at -90°C to -60°C.
According to him, the partnership has paved the way for drone deliveries of mRNA vaccines.
“At this time of extraordinary focus on science and dedication to patients, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, like all COVID-19 vaccines in the market, requires storage and transportation in controlled temperature conditions.
“Distributing these types of products rapidly and at national scale has no precedent in modern public health.
“Pfizer-BioNTech and Zipline have successfully tested the end-to-end supply chain from Pfizer’s Puurs facility in Belgium to a last-mile health post in rural Ghana.
“By uniting transformational technology, cutting-edge science and indomitable human spirit, Pfizer is pioneering biopharmaceutical innovations to do more than just treat difficult diseases.
“We’re opening new worlds of medical possibilities in support of our purpose: breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.
“And, we’re applying equal parts intelligence, passion and ingenuity to ensure these breakthroughs are accessible to all,” he said.
Subair said that Zipline would utilise the model to distribute Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines, as well as COVID-19 vaccines from other manufacturers to regions across Ghana.
Also, Caroline Roan, the Chief Sustainability Officer, Senior Vice President, Global Health and Social Impact, Pfizer Inc., said, “Pfizer has a history of investing with partners to improve access to medicines and vaccines in the most remote areas of the world.
“We are proud of this collaboration with Zipline to implement breakthrough solutions that help advance equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for hard to reach and underserved populations,” she said.
Commenting, Mr Keller Rinaudo, Co-founder of Zipline, said that nearly 175,000 COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers have been distributed across Ghana to-date by Zipline.
According to him, Zipline is the first company to do so through an autonomous aircraft at national scale, saying it plans to distribute millions more as supply becomes available.
Rinaudo said that through this partnership, Pfizer, BioNTech and Zipline have brought together their expertises and capabilities to help advance more equitable vaccine distribution.
“Delivery to people in remote and hard-to-reach places is a primary challenge for global vaccination.
“In partnership with Pfizer and BioNTech, we have created a solution to address this potential pain point head on.
“Together, we are working to help transform vaccine distribution into a more effective, equitable process,” he said. (NAN) (nannews.ng)