Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics, for Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, has announced it successful completion of the first long-range drone delivery of authorised mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, requiring ultra-cold-chain in Ghana.
In a press release made available to Pharmanewsonline on Thursday, Pfizer Inc. revealed that the collaboration of the companies, which worked together earlier this year to develop and test an end-to-end vaccine delivery solution, will allow for the distribution of tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Ghana, pioneering a new model for vaccine distribution.
In addition to financial support for the pilot programme, the document disclosed that Pfizer and BioNTech provided technical assistance and know-how specific to the management and storage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine at -90°C to -60°C. This partnership has paved the way for drone deliveries of mRNA vaccines.
The companies noted that they share a goal to help ensure the safe and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. “Pfizer and BioNTech have committed two billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries through 2022 and are actively working on collaborating with both public and private organisations to accelerate the vaccine rollout worldwide.
“To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has reached 2 billion vaccines to 155 countries and territories in every region of the world, including through its agreement with COVAX.
“Nearly 175,000 COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers have been distributed across Ghana to-date by Zipline, the first company to do so through an autonomous aircraft at national scale.
“Zipline plans to distribute millions more as supply becomes available. Through this partnership, Pfizer, BioNTech and Zipline have brought together their expertise and capabilities to help advance more equitable vaccine distribution”, the statement emphasised.
“Delivery to people in remote and hard-to-reach places is a primary challenge for global vaccination,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “In partnership with Pfizer and BioNTech, we have created a solution to address this potential pain point head on. Together, we are working to help transform vaccine distribution into a more effective, equitable process.”
Making COVID-19 vaccines accessible to an entire country’s population presents logistical challenges for many governments and healthcare organizations, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Zipline is helping to address these challenges by implementing an end-to-end distribution model that safely delivers any COVID-19 vaccine to all corners of a country through its autonomous aircraft.
“Pfizer has a history of investing with partners to improve access to medicines and vaccines in the most remote areas of the world,” said Caroline Roan, Chief Sustainability Officer, Senior Vice President, Global Health and Social Impact, Pfizer Inc. “We are proud of this collaboration with Zipline to implement breakthrough solutions that help advance equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for hard to reach and underserved populations.”
“The global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines requires a coordinated effort,” said [BioNTech representative]. “This collaboration between Pfizer, BioNTech and Zipline showcases our collective commitment to pioneering new solutions that can help address COVID-19 vaccine access challenges and help put an end to this pandemic.”
Olayinka Subair, Pfizer Cluster Lead, West Africa said “Our focus is always on the patients as we deploy resources to bring treatments that extend and significantly improve their lives. We consistently seek to collaborate with stakeholders to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care in communities all around.“
“At this time of extraordinary focus on science and dedication to patients, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, like all COVID-19 vaccines on the market, requires storage and transportation in controlled temperature conditions. Distributing these types of products rapidly and at national scale has no precedent in modern public health.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Zipline has successfully tested the end-to-end supply chain from Pfizer’s Puurs facility in Belgium to a last-mile health post in rural Ghana. By uniting transformational technology, cutting-edge science and indomitable human spirit, Pfizer is pioneering biopharmaceutical innovations to do more than just treat difficult diseases – we’re opening new worlds of medical possibilities in support of our purpose: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. And we’re applying equal parts intelligence, passion and ingenuity to ensure these breakthroughs are accessible to all.”
Zipline, Pfizer and BioNTech tested and validated the end-to-end model for delivery of mRNA vaccines with ultra-cold-chain requirements, and Zipline will now utilize it to distribute Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines, as well as COVID-19 vaccines from all manufacturers, to regions across Ghana. The companies have detailed the learnings in an executive summary and a separate white paper.