The inspiration for our VACCESS.io team is rooted in Ms. Mahmoud-Davis' health law expertise and her 2010 published research on the need for emergency preparedness in a pandemic. Her research proposed a mass vaccination plan for the United States (see: Balancing Public Health and Individual Choice: A Proposal for a Federal Emergency Vaccination Law, 20 Health Matrix 219 (2010) Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/healthmatrix/vol20/iss1/10).
What it does & Impact
While the world eagerly awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, our team VACCESS.io recognizes the next biggest challenge will be the fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine on a global scale. Our web-based data driven application helps overcome this critical and daunting challenge facing local communities, public health authorities, governments and industry—the need to ensure effective, fair and universal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to the world’s nearly 8 billion people.
All communities and regions across the globe will face the common problem of trying to immunize their residents fairly and swiftly. Our team believes that the vaccine distribution chain must be prepared to encounter inevitable vaccine production capacity limits and find innovative ways to minimize supply disruptions. VACCESS.io is driven by real-time data supplied by local community residents and local health authorities (e.g., community apps, health information systems and social media platforms that provide contact tracing and mobility information, diagnostic tests results, personal health symptoms, and port-of-entry screening, etc.), combined with additional historic health and socio-economic demographic data, which enables the web-application to predict vulnerable populations and at-risk localities that are more susceptible to injury or death from disease. VACCESS.io supports both local community and global stakeholders by helping them to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts to reach vulnerable populations.
Additionally, VACCESS.io helps minimize supply challenges such as hoarding and unfair competition between countries (and even between U.S. states). It also helps healthcare systems and industry reap cost savings by contributing to a more efficient and effective supply chain.
How we built it
In less than 3 weeks, beginning in April 2020, we formed an international team, crafted our initial idea into a clear vision for VACCESS.io and created our minimum viable product (MVP) with a current focus on the counties of California and Florida. Our MVP application reads live data informed by our proprietary algorithm that uses geographic heat maps, sorted lists and additional components to display guided analytics to help local public health authorities, community providers (i.e., primary care doctors, pharmacies and hospitals), government officials, domestic and international health organizations (e.g., CDC, ICRC, UNICEF, WHO) make better vaccine distribution decisions both locally and globally. We leveraged IBM’s Watson Studio and Cognos Analytics to visualize our data predictions on legacy maps and line graphs, displaying 3-day and 1-month risk intervals. In turn, we created HTML tags to allow us to incorporate our data visualizations on our web-application. Using IBM’s Cloud services, we deployed our application and created a functional link.
Challenges we ran into
To take full advantage of the available data sets and use them most effectively to inform our proprietary algorithm, we will need to devote more time and resources to the project and add a data scientist with relevant expertise to the team.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Fortunately, we arranged a meeting with a distribution expert in the pharmaceutical industry to assist us in developing and refining the VACCESS.io mission. We are particularly proud of our team's diverse and talented skill set and each member's dedication to the project.
What we learned
There appear to be no comprehensive, coordinated local and global efforts to predict at-risk populations, which also are specifically designed to improve distribution of vaccines to vulnerable areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics reveal communicable disease deaths in the millions each year and demonstrate an urgent need for an innovative technology solution like VACCESS.io to combat COVID-19 and other vaccine preventive diseases. In the future, our proprietary data analytics are adaptable to both known and novel infectious diseases, and capable of supporting and improving distribution efforts for all preventive vaccines worldwide. Our goal is to minimize the significant human suffering and socio-economic losses incurred by local communities ravaged by contagious diseases each year.
What's next for VACCESS.io
We have a significant likelihood of success if we can further define our datasets, gain access to the sources, and refine our proprietary algorithm within the next 6 months. Ideally, we launch the VACCESS.io web-application by the end of 2020, continuing to refine our algorithm based on real-time trends as we await the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine sometime in mid-2021. VACCESS.io is a critical tool to combat future waves of the COVID-19 crisis, but also to manage future contagious disease outbreaks. VACCESS.io saves lives.