The Daily Telegraph

Drones tipped to drasticall­y cut delivery time for medical goods

- By Paul Nuki global health security editor

‘Good regulation should spur entreprene­urship… this project will help keep the UK at the cutting edge’

THE Government is to clear the way for transplant organs, vaccines and other life-saving medical products to be flown around Britain by drone.

Trials in Scotland have shown drones can dramatical­ly reduce delivery times and costs, especially to remote locations. Over the past three months, drones have been flying every day between Oban and the Isle of Mull, transporti­ng blood samples, Covid-19 tests and other medical consignmen­ts.

Now the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, will develop and test a special standardis­ed container that will be compliant with internatio­nal dangerous goods regulation­s.

It will allow the flights to be conducted outside of special trials and for the deliveries to become an everyday occurrence across the UK.

The CAA will “develop world-first standards for special containers that will allow drones to safely carry sensitive goods like medical products, so that remote communitie­s can access critical supplies without delay”, a spokesman said. The project is expected to be completed by March next year, using a £55,000 innovation grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Lord Callanan, the Business Minister, said: “Good regulation should spur entreprene­urship, not stand in its way, and this project will help keep the UK at the cutting edge of innovation.”

Alex Brown, the head of operations for Skyports, the drone delivery business flying medical products in west Scotland, welcomed the initiative, saying it would allow drone deliveries of medical goods to become widespread.

“We have cut the time it takes for a blood test result to be turned round from an average of 20 hours to just one hour,” he said. “There are many other areas of the country that could benefit.”

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