The government has started ICMRDrone’s Response and Use in the Northeast (i-drone) to facilitate vaccine delivery in difficult and difficult to access terrain. The new model aims to address these challenges by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) / drones in remote areas and hard-to-reach areas. The drone-based delivery project has currently received approval for implementation in Manipur and Nagaland as well as in the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
During a pilot run, the drone transported Vaccinations over an air distance of 15 km in 12-15 minutes from Bishnupur District Hospital to Loktak Lake on Karang Island in Manipur for administration at the PHC. The actual road distance between these locations is 16 miles.
ICMR, in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, conducted an initial study to test the ability of drones to safely transport and deliver vaccines. The study was carried out in Manipur, Nagaland, and Andaman and Nicobar. These studies produced promising results, on the basis of which the Department of Civil Aviation (MoCA), the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other regulators have given permission to fly drones out of line of sight.
“Our vaccination program against COVID-19 has already exceeded all expectations. I firmly believe that this initiative will continue to help us achieve the highest possible vaccination coverage against COVID-19. Incorporating such drone technologies into national programs would help provide other vaccines and medical supplies as soon as possible, ”said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.