Artificial Intelligence and automation seen to advance vaccine rollout in the Philippines

Jap Tobias - Philstar.com
Artificial Intelligence and automation seen to advance vaccine rollout in the Philippines
The Cisco Meraki Vaccine Distribution Solution leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to equip healthcare providers with tools to facilitate COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Composite photo by Jap Tobias

MANILA, Philippines — Bringing vaccines to all parts of the world is crucial in ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will begin by securing enough doses for everyone.

But even if enough vaccines are procured, other problems arise such as storage and distribution.

We all saw how personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply last year at the onset of the pandemic and we are now seeing vaccines facing similar logistical bottlenecks such as production backlogs and shipping constraints today.

However, delays in vaccine distribution are much harder to deal with because of one major complication: the cold chain.

Most vaccines are temperature sensitive and they require transportation in extremely chilled environments—from warehouses, vehicles to boxes and storage areas—to ensure that they don't perish before they're administered.

Adding to this complication are storage requirements. Vaccines are very high-maintenance and need storage in very controlled infrastructures with tight security. This prevents issues such as mismanaging refrigerators and power interruptions, which could cause wastage.

Most vaccines are temperature sensitive and they require transportation in extremely chilled environments which complicates the transportation and storage of the highly-important shots.
AFP/Jean-Francois Monier

As of March 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there have been 182,874 vaccine doses in America that have already been wasted. Here in the Philippines, health authorities in Bicol had concerns that around 7,500 AstraZeneca vaccine doses might have been wasted after encountering temperature issues.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a case of a faulty thermometer and the shots remain usable. Nonetheless, it highlighted the importance of every aspect of the supply chain and how it plays a critical role in the rollout of vaccines.

Several factors can cause vaccine wastage and among those that are commonly reported are exposure to heat, breakage, missing inventory, and theft.

No drop wasted

The complexity in vaccine distribution calls for a safe, secure and efficient rollout plan, focused on avoiding mishandling and vaccine wastage. Modern-day technologies can pose solutions that may help protect vaccines and make sure that they remain safe and effective until administered.

"Vaccine distribution and handling can be a complex process, but with the right technology, the work can be simplified," Cisco Philippines Managing Director Karie Ilagan says.

"Through automation and Artificial Intelligence, Cisco's cloud-based technology can ensure vaccines remain safe and secure when stored or during transportation," Ilagan adds.

Safe vaccines for all 

The key component to successful administration of vaccine doses involves seamless delivery and storage of the vaccine to distribution centers. The Cisco Meraki Vaccine Distribution Solution is a suite of smart technology that will aid in this.
AFP/Yaksin Akgul

Harnessing technology and using its expertise, Cisco has launched a suite of smart technology solutions with CISCO Meraki Vaccine Distribution Solution, hoping to address these top concerns in storage and delivery.

With cloud-managed IT solutions, Meraki offers total control of any incident, from alert to fix. This is through the use of temperature and humidity sensors, door open/close sensors, smart cameras, wireless access points and networking, which can all lead to seamless delivery to distribution centers and better storage management.

Accessible anywhere, smart sensors, cameras, and their analytics and insights are centrally managed in the cloud via the Meraki dashboard, and can help ensure safe and secure storage, distribution, and administration of vaccines.

To keep the vaccines’ physical integrity, Meraki also employs 24/7 monitoring using smart cameras and real-time alerting system. This notifies personnel when it detects motions in sensitive areas such as storage room doors or freezer doors.

To maintain quality control in storage, intrusion sensors can also ensure that freezer doors remain closed and vaccines are kept safe in environments that satisfy their required temperature level.                     

Apart from physical integrity, the Meraki solution also seeks to set up mobile and remote vaccine distribution sites through mobile-enabled ready-to-go solutions. It can also ensure the management of traffic flow and safety with real-time face-mask detection and video surveillance.

Technology as a force of good

As of May 12, 2021, 6.4 million of the 7.76 million doses that the Philippines has received had already been distributed and over 514,000 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

In the Philippine setting, the Cisco Meraki Vaccine Distribution Solution is also seen to help in the vaccine rollout, most especially in keeping the vaccines secure to make sure that no drop is wasted.

Currently, the Meraki solution is Cisco's most urgent program under the Ugnayan 2030, a 10-year program to accelerate the country's digitization by leveraging collaboration among public and private institutions.

READ MORE:  Ugnayan 2030: Cisco inaugurates 10-year program to accelerate country’s digitization

"The only way to tackle complex issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic is for the public and private sectors to partner closely. We all need to be pulling in the same direction to drive an inclusive recovery," Ilagan says.

"We've made the Cisco Meraki Vaccine Distribution Solution available to all sectors because we want to fulfill our role in providing the technology and expertise necessary to ensure the safety of the Filipino community," she ends.

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