Centre on Friday granted permission to the Telangana government to use drones for experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccine. As per the permit, the Telangana government will be able to deploy drones for the experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccines within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) Range.
"Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted conditional exemption for drone deployment to the Government of Telangana," read a Central Government press release. The permission exemption for using drones is valid for a period of one year or until further orders. The Civil Aviation Ministry stated that this exemption will be valid only if all conditions and limitations as stated for the respective entities are strictly adhered to.
The Aviation Ministry said that trials will assist in determining conditions such as population, degree of isolation, geography etc. This will be done to identify regions that specifically require drone deliveries.
Earlier in April, similar permission was granted to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with IIT Kanpur for conducting a feasibility study on delivering COVID-19 vaccines via drones.
The permission to use drones for delivering the COVID-19 vaccine has been granted in order to achieve the dual objective of faster vaccine delivery and improved healthcare access, as per the release. These objectives will be achieved through:
- Ensuring primary healthcare delivery at the citizen's doorstep
- Limiting human exposure to COVID congested or COVID prone areas through aerial delivery
- Ensuring access to health care to the last mile, especially in remote areas
- Possible integration into the middle mile of medical logistics for long range drones
- Improving medical supply chain, especially with a third vaccine expected to be commissioned and millions of doses to be transported across India