‘The Biggest Data Puzzle of Our Life’ — Vaccine Distribution Effort Gets Help from Big Tech

The tech industry is investing its considerable resources to help millions of Americans receive vaccines amid an alarming upward spiral in COVID-19 cases. From Microsoft Corp. MSFT, + 0.69% in Seattle to International Business Machines Corp. IBM, -1.74% in Armonk, NY, technology companies across the country offer expertise to tackle a logistics task that some compared to the moon landing.

“This is the biggest data puzzle of our life,” requiring collaboration between technology companies and with federal and state authorities, Jason Kelley, general manager of blockchain services at IBM, told MarketWatch. “This is a team sport.” For technology, vaccine distribution presents an opportunity and a challenge. The industry sees an opportunity to polish its credentials while meeting an urgent social need, amid criticism for failing to carry out big projects that profoundly improve people’s lives. But the ambitious deployment is fraught with risks, as illustrated by potential security breaches in open access systems, flawed programming and some fraudulent accounts. In Florida, which reported nearly 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, online ticketing service Eventbrite Inc. EB is working with counties to help schedule vaccination for Floridians 65 and older as the state deal with serpentine lines, confusion and disappointment. However, some fake Eventbrite accounts turned up, a concerning development for the future of using such services for vaccine distribution. More news on COVID-19: Record death toll in the US As experts worry about the spread of the new variant “Our team has investigated and found no evidence that vaccine registration events have been created with malicious purposes, “the Eventbrite spokeswoman told MarketWatch. “The unofficial event listings we have found, some of which charge a fee, are likely the result of user error, where people are mistakenly creating new event listings instead of registering for a time slot.” . What technology is undertaking is no small thing. US Digital Response, an organization that matches tech-savvy volunteers with state and local governments in need of technical assistance, has outlined eight key areas for COVID-19 vaccine providers including confirming patient eligibility, reporting data to the system state immunization information and manage vaccine inventory. See Also: The United States Is Bypassing This Powerful Tool To Loosen The COVID-19 Vaccine Jam “Technology research for a state or county takes time. It takes an engineer’s eye to know which vendor to use for a project, ”Raphael Lee, USDR health program director, told MarketWatch. His organization helped the city of Seattle and King County find a provider, Solv, to establish test sites. A wide range of companies in recent days have presented their plans related to vaccines. IBM offers open blockchain technology and supply chain management software to governments and private companies to record and authenticate the temperature and handling of each vaccine dose. The IT giant is also expanding the availability of IBM Digital Health Pass, the company’s new health passport app, with help from Salesforce.com Inc. CRM, + 1.11% to help organizations check status. of an individual’s vaccine and any other relevant health credentials. In addition to its partnership with IBM, Salesforce is partnering with global vaccine agency Gavi on its project to equitably distribute the vaccine in 190 countries. Salesforce is also part of a project with consultant MTX for Chicago to manage vaccine distribution. Read: How to convince your family members to take the COVID-19 vaccine Alphabet Inc.’s Google GOOGL, + 0.62% GOOG, + 0.47% says their cloud unit has expanded its pandemic response to help with intelligence and vaccine distribution, and is working together with partners to implement vaccine management solutions with state and local governments. “Google Cloud has extended our response to the pandemic to assist with vaccine intelligence, and we are working together with partners to implement vaccine management solutions with state and local governments,” said a Google spokeswoman. “Google is helping connect people to quality information and resources about COVID-19, including vaccines, and we are working on additional products and features to help people get the right information at the right time.” Technology and Coronavirus: CES Brings New Devices to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 Oracle Corp. ORCL, -0.41% donated to the federal government a database of national electronic health records and public health management applications that can be use to track who has been vaccinated and who could have potential side effects. Oracle intends to bring similar systems to Africa by joining the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Microsoft Corp. MSFT, + 0.69% is working with Ernst & Young and others on vaccine management efforts powered by Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise services. The comprehensive solution helps manage the vaccine manufacturing and distribution process in real time. EY’s vaccine management solution is built on Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, Power BI, and Power Platform, according to Microsoft. Biden‘s Pandemic Plan: Restore Obamacare, Mandatory Masks, Paid Sick Leave and Free COVID-19 Testing Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, + 2.08% and Lyft Inc. LYFT, -0.39% are offering to help vaccinate more Americans, and Uber paired its ride-sharing service with vaccine maker Moderna Inc. MRNA, -0.98% to work with public health agencies to schedule trips for those eligible for the doses, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Lyft executives have teamed up with the incoming Biden administration to allocate federal funding for vaccine-related transportation. In December, DoorDash Inc. DASH, + 4.33% sent a letter to Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to governors across the country, urging them to consider prioritizing delivery workers in their vaccine distribution plans. “Dashers has been on the front lines every day, providing essential services to support communities and small businesses across the country during the pandemic,” said Max Rettig, DoorDash’s global director of public policy, in the Dec. 7 letter. . “We are actively collaborating with public health officials at the federal and state levels to help ensure that these vital labor workers have access to vaccines as soon as possible.”