First ultracold package delivery for Swoop Aero in Malawi
Melbourne, AUSTRALIA and Lilongwe, Malawi – We are celebrating with medical drone logistics company Swoop Aero, which has scored a first in Malawi by successfully delivering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
And this is a laudable feat because – with the Pfizer vaccine – it is just not a matter of moving it from its source to its destination just like that.
The vaccine needs to remain in ultra-cold storage conditions to remain usable; an exposure to higher temperatures for some amount of time will render it ineffective.
There is virtually no margin for error.
But Swoop Aero, working with its non-government and government partners in the country, completed the feat in Malawi recently, to add the Pfizer doses to the nearly 17,300 COVID-19 vaccines it has successfully delivered, from various manufacturers.
“This air delivery represents a “first” for Malawi and is an important milestone for the country, medical air deliveries and Swoop Aero, demonstrating the value of the technology to support public health,” the company said in a statement.
“To date, more than 17,280 COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers including AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson have been successfully distributed across the Southern districts of Malawi, leveraging the existing Swoop Aero drone network to rapidly send critical vaccines to hard-to-reach and isolated communities.”
Swoop Aero plans to distribute thousands more vaccines as the supply chain improves in the country, the company further said.
“The delivery of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines underscores the novel value of bi-directional drone networks in Malawi,” said Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero. “The global supply chain bottlenecks evidenced over the past two years have demonstrated the need for agile and robust solutions that complement existing methods of transportation to ensure the vaccines are distributed to those in need in a timely and effective manner.”
In this humanitarian venture, Swoop Aero are working with Malawi’s Ministry of Health and Population, healthcare non-governmental organisations, VillageReach and Focusing Philanthropy, to scale up the bi-directional drone network to a national level over the coming months.
“The national network will improve the availability and accessibility of essential health supplies for 700,000 people directly, and 3 million people indirectly.
“During the recent natural disaster (where Tropical Cyclone Ana left a trail of destruction), the Swoop Aero drone network has continued to operate a routine and on-demand bi-directional drone network for communities cut off from essential health services due to flooding.
“The continued operation of the Swoop Aero network during this time has facilitated the reliability of routine vaccination clinics for COVID-19 as well as other preventable and communicable diseases, including malaria, TB and polio, which have surged due to poor water and sanitation conditions.”
Swoop Aero has previous experience in the transportation of medicine requiring ultracold conditions, having delivered Ebola vaccines in DR Congo before.