COVID-19: Kaduna to distribute vaccines with aid of medical drones

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Kaduna State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign company (Zipline) for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, other routine and emergency medicine, using first medical drones.

The medical drones, according to the state government, would aid the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and other emergency medical items to the 23 local government areas of the state.

Governor of Kaduna Nasir El-rufai disclosed that the revolutionary new service would use drones to make on-demand deliveries of hundreds of different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications.

El-rufai further stated that the strategy employed was that the service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from three distribution centres – each equipped with 30 drones, and deliver to more than 1,000 health facilities serving millions of people across Kaduna State.

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According to the governor, all the three distribution centres would be capable of micro-targeting the delivery of more than six tons of medical products each week over more than 60,000 square kilometres.

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El-rufai also said the measure was to expand access to routine and emergency medical deliveries, just as he said, the new drone delivery service would also expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for rural and hard to reach populations.

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“The revolutionary new service, which is expected to launch operations in the second quarter of 2021, is part of the government of Kaduna State’s bold vision of using drone delivery to establish universal, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving and critical medicines for most of its more than eight million citizens over the coming years,” El-rufai said.

The cost implication of the drone service was, however, not mentioned during the signing of the MoU.

Meanwhile, a cross section of residents interviewed by BusinessDay lauded the initiative and remained optimistic of its effectiveness.

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A medical practitioner, who pleaded anonymity, said mass vaccination was the best strategy to curtail the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.

He said mass vaccination would be approximately 95 percent efficacious at preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19 across age groups if properly handled by the officials that will be saddled with the responsibility.

The health practitioner urged the residents to support the Kaduna state government by making themselves available for the vaccination exercise whenever it begins.

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