There have been 29 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for every 100 people across the globe, reports The New York Times. The world is paying close attention as that number rises, hopeful that vaccines can soon restore a sense of normalcy to daily life.

Countries are racing ahead in their vaccination rollout programmes, but the disparities in vaccine distribution and rollout reveal that the road ahead is no easy feat, as it requires major logistical coordination across multiple countries and organisations. Large swathes of the population need to receive the vaccines quicker than new viral clusters emerge.

Real-time data and the cloud will assist governments across the world to ramp up efficient vaccine distribution. At various stages of the process, data plays a critical role in tackling challenges faced in the global vaccine rollout.

Targeted treatment and detailed monitoring

Accurate, updated patient medical records will help healthcare providers determine the right testing and treatment plans and allocate vaccines accurately. With the availability of such data, clinicians can apply machine learning and neural network analysis to easily identify priority cohorts that should receive the vaccines first.

It is critical for healthcare providers to have a good handle on population health data as the vaccines are distributed. Countries have to administer doses carefully and monitor trends in vaccine responses across groups like age, occupation, allergies, and those with preexisting conditions.

This is especially crucial as countries are in the early stages of their vaccine rollouts, and would need to track possible side effects from vaccines. Data analytics can help healthcare providers determine if adverse effects came from a particular batch of vaccines, or from a specific vaccination center. These effects may not have been apparent during clinical trials.

For instance, clinics providing the Sinovac vaccine in Singapore have a “reporting protocol” to collect data on the vaccine and its side effects, Channel News Asia reported.

Israel announced earlier this year that it had agreed to provide Pfizer with extensive data on its inoculation programme, in exchange for expedited vaccine deliveries. “When you have a relatively new vaccine which has just started to be administered to the population, it’s very, very important to share information in order to learn from it,” its Ambassador Sagi Karni told GovInsider.

Speed is of the essence in a pandemic, and having all this data stored securely in a single place will streamline processes.

Cloudera’s Enterprise Data Cloud platform can integrate vast amounts of data across multiple hospitals and clinics, from both on-premise and cloud environments, into a single platform. Organisations can then analyse real-time data, such as test results or population count, and run machine learning or AI models to yield patient insights.

We also ensure all data analysis is carried out in a secure and governed platform. Data access is restricted to authorised users, and our platform helps clinicians keep track of data lineage and how data is being used to create models.

Tackling logistical challenges

Data will also ensure vaccines are shipped, distributed, and administered quickly.

The vaccines need to be delivered in ultralow temperatures and on time due to their short shelf life. A punctured vial of the Moderna vaccine can only last 12 hours, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, doses must also be diluted and processed upon delivery.

Singapore’s cold chain facilities have been further enhanced to maintain the deep-freeze temperatures required to transport mRNA vaccines. Its cargo handler Sats can produce four tonnes of dry ice every day, and has also invested in refrigerated containers that can transport goods from cargo planes to warehouses, according to The Straits Times.

From manufacturing to transport and delivery, all parts of the vaccine supply chain need to be coordinated. Too much supply may overwhelm local cold storage facilities and cause vaccines to be left unusable. On the contrary, a lack of supply may leave citizens waiting for their turn to be vaccinated.

Data can help to forecast and correlate demand and supply. These insights can predict and prevent breakdowns in vaccine transport, or allow for more cold storage facilities to be prepared ahead of time.

Machine learning and simulations can also play a part. Running multiple simulations on alternate data sources, known as agent based simulation, can help hospitals anticipate needs and prepare logistical supplies for a variety of scenarios.

These methods were used by Cloudera’s partners to manage PPE supplies during the pandemic. We are also working with a global mass merchant to run predictive maintenance and monitoring for their freezer and cold storage operations, which saves them over US $500 million dollars a year in food wastage and maintenance costs.

Developing vaccine passports

Data will also help set up vaccine passports, which will verify whether individuals have been vaccinated. Vaccination data will need to be validated against known personal details, and to set up a global registry like this, the highest security standards will be required.

Countries such as Israel have already developed a system called the ‘Green Pass’. The document features a QR code and requires proof of identification alongside it, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

Singapore is developing a similar system for vaccine certificates. It will be built on its existing blockchain-based system HealthCerts, which is currently used for pre-departure Covid-19 test results.

A successful vaccine rollout hinges on accurate and timely data. Being able to integrate, process and analyse this data at lightning speed is going to be imperative.

This article is by Remus Lim, Regional Sales Director for ASEAN, Cloudera.