Vaccines and Medicines to be safely delivered by drones, successful completion of the pilot test by Merck

Working with AT&T, Softbox, Merck and Volans-I, Direct Relief has now completed the 4th in a series of proof-of-concept missions designed for testing the potential of using drones or unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver temperature-controlled vaccines and medicines.

The success of the trial means that drones could be used feasibly within the biopharma supply chain, as well as, for the humanitarian efforts worldwide. The 4th successful mission was conducted in the Bahamas, with former test flights taking place in Puerto Rico and Switzerland.

The potential of the employed technology in a real-world setting, however, is reliant on several factors such as continually evolving regulatory challenges.

Talking about the project, the Direct Relief’s Andrew Schroeder stated that the Experience & research consistently show that those most at risk of the health crisis in disasters live in communities which are possibly to be cut off from vital health care because of the disruption of transportation & communications. Drone delivery is amongst the most promising answers to this problem. More remains to be done to operationalize medical cargo drones in emergencies. However, successful tests like this one give a demonstration and proof that remarkable new humanitarian capabilities are emerging quickly.

A drone flew over open water during the test, between the Bahamas’ islands, out of the line of sight of the operator. The pilot test was conducted with cold-chain delivery tech designed for keeping the medicines & vaccines at safe temperatures during transport. The project also constantly tracked the temperature of the medicine during the flight’s duration in the hope of ensuring safe & effective delivery.

Introduced by Merck, the groups will now be advancing the pilot program & test the technology in Latin America and Africa.

The senior vice president at Merck, Craig Kennedy stated that this successful pilot demonstrates the potential of innovative unmanned aerial vehicles technology to help in the delivery of temperature-dependent medicines & vaccines to people who require need them.