Wednesday, March 3, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine program to be tracked by new tech platform

COVID-19 vaccine program to be tracked by new tech platform

However, Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall was confident the tech giant’s platform should “optimise citizen experience” across the entire registration, vaccination and follow-up process.

He added the international platform had been “fine-tuned” for Victoria’s use.

Neither Microsoft nor the Department of Health would provide details of what the fine-tuning involved but said the solution would be accessible in different languages, addressing a key criticism of Victoria’s initial contact tracing response that was deemed too difficult for multicultural communities to access.

“This solution will allow the Victorian Department of Health to reach out to Victorians in their own languages and through their communication channel of choice as the rollout progresses,” Mr Worrall said.

“Importantly, this information will also be made available to clinicians, so that they can ensure Victorians get the right vaccine at the right time based on the latest data available.”

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella flagged the Victorian deal at the tech giant’s second-quarter results.

According to Microsoft, the VRAS technology would also let the Department of Health monitor “cold chain” requirements to ensure vaccines are safe and effective. This will be important for the Pfizer vaccine which is mRNA-based and requires ultra-low storage temperatures of minus 70 degrees.

Microsoft and the Department of Health would not confirm whether the platform would connect directly with the existing digital My Health Record system. A spokeswoman for the department said Australians would be able to access their immunisation history statement through Medicare for proof of vaccination, both digitally and in hard copy, if required.

“Our priority is to make sure the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout will be administered to these priority groups in Victoria as quickly and safely as possible. The Commonwealth is responsible for securing the vaccines, state by state allocations, distributions and decisions on prioritisation of high-risk and vulnerable groups,” the Department of Health spokeswoman said.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella flagged the Victorian deal at the tech giant’s second quarter earnings conference in January, where he said the VRAS technology allowed governments to manage the end-to-end vaccination process.

“In Australia, the government of Victoria is relying on our tools to help deliver doses to more than 6 million residents, and multiple states in the US including, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are using our capabilities,” Mr Nadella said.

The Department of Health said Victoria is one of several states that will use the Microsoft platform but neither the department nor Microsoft would reveal which other states or territories had also signed up to use the technology.

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