GHANA – Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have announced that Zipline has successfully completed the first long-range drone delivery of both authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines requiring ultra-cold-chain in Ghana.

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 approximately 50,000 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 program, 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 all mRNA vaccines.  

The companies 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 organizations to accelerate the vaccine rollout worldwide.

To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has reached 155 countries and territories in every region of the world, including through its agreement with COVAX.

To-date, more than 220,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from multiple manufacturers have been successfully distributed across Ghana 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.

“Delivery to people in remote and hard-to-reach places is a primary challenge for global vaccination,” said Keller Rinaudo, Co-founder and CEO, Zipline.

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.

The global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines requires a coordinated effort. We are working together with local partners and governments to establish a robust local end-to-end manufacturing and distribution network,” said Sierk Poetting, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, BioNTech.

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.

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