Blood delivery by drones across India could soon become a reality, an official says after ICMR’s successful sea trial

Blood delivery via drones could soon be expanded to the whole country, a senior official said after India’s Council of Medical Research successfully conducted a trial of blood bag delivery by drones under its iDrone initiative on Thursday. The initiative was an extension of the national mission to expand the drone ecosystem in India. The ‘i-DRONE’ was first used by ICMR during the COVID-19 pandemic to distribute vaccines to hard-to-reach areas.

“Today we transport blood and blood-related products that need to be kept at a low temperature. After the experiment, we found that we could not only maintain the temperature, but also that there was no damage to the transported products. “We have sent another sample by ambulance and if there are no differences in the samples sent with the two modes, drones will be used across India,” said Dr Rajiv Bahl, the director general of ICMR.

He also said that “clarity on mapping challenges and identifying the possible solutions can be achieved by developing indigenous research capabilities and introducing innovations and technologies into the mainstream”. “With digitalisation, efficient production of vaccines and the development of a rapid delivery mechanism, India reached 90 percent coverage within a year. The boost of technology is an accelerator that is gradually pushing India to reach the status of a developed country,” he added.

The trial run as part of a pioneering validation study has been conducted for the first time in the country through the joint efforts of ICMR, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, Government Institute of Medical Sciences, Greater Noida and Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida. The inaugural trial flight carried 10 units of whole blood samples between the Government Institute of Medical Sciences, Greater Noida, and Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, in visual line of sight, according to an official statement.

Some countries are already using drones to deliver blood products, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and even organs to remote, rural areas or areas with poor infrastructure. product delivery — is now available to thousands of healthcare facilities serving millions of people.

In the US, where whole blood and blood products are often scarce in rural areas, drones are more tightly regulated and air traffic is more congested, the feasibility of drone delivery of blood and blood products is still being assessed.

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