The Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday permitted the Telangana government to use drones for experimental delivery of vaccines beyond the visual line of sight.
India has been hit hard by a second wave of the novel coronavirus infection, and hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of vaccines, oxygen, drugs, equipment and beds.
On April 30, the ministry had permitted the Telangana government to use drones for experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccines within the visual line of sight.
The ministry said in a statement on Friday that it has granted conditional exemption to the Telangana government from the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, for "conducting experimental delivery of vaccines" beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) using drones.
The trials may commence by the end of May, it added.
On April 22, the ministry had permitted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct a feasibility study on using drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccine.
The Union health ministry said on Friday that cumulatively 16,49,73,058 vaccine doses have been administered through 24,11,300 sessions across India, as per the provisional report till 7 am.
With a record 4,14,188 new coronavirus infections being reported in a span of 24 hours, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,14,91,598 on Friday, while the count of active cases crossed the 36 lakh-mark, according to the health ministry.
The death count has increased to 2,34,083 with 3,915 fatalities being reported in a day, the data uploaded by the ministry showed.