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In a first, drones deliver blood bags in Delhi. Watch

By | Written by Ritu Maria Johny
May 10, 2023 03:08 PM IST

Named 'i-DRONE', it was first used during the Covid19 pandemic by the Indian Council of Medical Research for the distribution of vaccines to remote areas.

In a first for the country, drones transported blood bags in Delhi on Wednesday, as per news agency ANI. Sharing visuals of the historic delivery, ANI wrote, “In a first in India, validation of blood bags delivered by drones compared to the conventional method of transportation was done today.”

According to the iCMR director-general, the experiment found that the temperature of the blood products was maintained and there was also no damage during transportation. (ANI)
According to the iCMR director-general, the experiment found that the temperature of the blood products was maintained and there was also no damage during transportation. (ANI)

Named 'i-DRONE', it was first used during the Covid19 pandemic by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the distribution of vaccines to remote areas. “Today, we are transporting blood and blood-related products, which are supposed to be kept at a low temperature. After the experiment, we found that not only can we maintain the temperature, but there was also no damage to the products transported. We sent another sample through an ambulance and if there are no differences in the samples sent using the two modes, then this drone will be used all over India,” said Dr Rajiv Bahl, director general of the apex medical research institute told ANI.

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Blood components are required to be transported under appropriate temperature conditions, security and hygiene. Validated blood transport boxes with thermal insulation inserts are used for safe delivery.

However, it is not the first time that drones have been deployed for medical purposes in India. In 2022, a Delhi-based diagnostics company started a pilot project to collect blood samples from hospitals using drones and deliver them to a lab to cut down on turnaround time and provide faster test results. Officials said a four-day trial will take place in and around Gurugram to test the efficacy of the system.

Skye Air Mobility conducted the first trial wherein a drone collected samples from a private hospital near Huda Metro station and flew them to SRL Labs in Sector 1 4 in Gurugram.

Officials said the samples were first collected by a technician, and then packed in a temperature-controlled storage box attached to the drone. The drone was then sent to a predetermined laboratory, taking almost one-third of the time required by a technician to collect the sample and reach the lab by road.

Last year, the ICMR released a guidance document for use of drones in healthcare related to items such as measles, mumps and Covid-19 vaccines with storage temperature between 2°C and 8°C, tablets and capsules, syrups in bottles, gloves, syringes, blood bags, diagnostic biological tissues, urine, blood, sputum, saliva or frozen specimens.

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