Hundreds of drones will begin delivering vaccines, blood and medicines to save lives in Ghana this week in the largest scheme of its kind, the global vaccine alliance (GAVI) said on Wednesday.

The largest medical plane in the world.

Physicians will place orders by text message when supplies run out, said GAVI Executive Director Seth Berkley.

Then, the drones will fly from four distribution centers, they will move over the health posts and they will leave the deliveries using small parachutes.

“The idea is that these four distribution centers can make up to 600 delivery flights on demand per day. “And that can expand up to 2,000 (one day) over time,” Berkley said.

The goal is for deliveries to arrive in 30 minutes, Berkley added, which means emergency treatments such as snake venom or rabies vaccines could arrive in time to save lives.

The project, led by Zipline, a California-based robotics company, is designed to serve approximately 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people throughout the West African country.

It is supported by the non-profit organizations GAVI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as by several companies, including the package delivery company UPS and the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Up to 12 routine and emergency vaccines will be available, including vaccines against yellow fever, polio, measles, meningitis and tetanus.

Others are 148 blood products and other critical medications. The drones fly autonomously and can carry up to 1.8 kilograms of cargo, said GAVI. Zipline said a similar but smaller project had made more than 13,000 deliveries of blood products since its launch in Rwanda in 2016, about a third of them for emergency treatment to save lives.


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