UP engineer, DLSU researcher invent Covid-19 vaccine queue calculator

Photo by Associated Press

A UNIVERSITY of the Philippines (UP) engineer and a De La Salle University (DLSU) researcher have invented a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine queue calculator to help Filipinos “see if the national vaccination plan is being followed.”

“As the Philippines begins its Covid-19 vaccinations... a question still lingers in millions of minds like mine – How far in the queue am I? I tried searching for an answer but ended up building a tool that calculates it instead,” said Kenneth Alambra, a civil engineer from the UP-Los Baños.

“Since there are around 110 million people in the Philippines, not everybody can get vaccinated immediately. It raises a whole load of new questions: Who will be first in the queue to get the vaccine? When are you likely to be offered it? How far are we away from the finish line?” he asked.

Alambra, together with his researcher friend Reina Sagnip from DLSU-Manila, created the Philippine VaccineQueue Calculator for the Omni Calculator Project, based on the national priority list released by the government.

“We created this calculator to deliver all the answers to all these crucial questions. The Vaccine Queue Calculator for the Philippines will estimate for you how many people are ahead of you in the queue to get a Covid vaccine in the Philippines. It also predicts how long you might have to wait to get your vaccine doses. Using our tool, you'll have a better idea of when you can expect to get vaccinated,” said Alambra.

“What percentage of people will take the vaccine when they are called to have it? In the Philippines, a survey was conducted and, currently, only around 56 percent of the respondents think they'll take the Covid-19 vaccine,” he added.

The Filipino engineer disclosed that they based their vaccine queue calculator on the data provided by the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19 Vaccines for the priority list and the likely vaccination rate to achieve the government's target to vaccinate 50 to 70 percent of the adult population for the rest of 2021.

The vaccine queue calculator takes into account the person’s age, profession, health condition and risk factors.

“The tool then shows you the minimum and the maximum number of people in front of you and a range of dates you might have to wait till you get your shot,” he said.

“If we want to vaccinate 70 percent of our adult population by the end of 2021, we need to administer 1,274,980 doses per week. At this rate, I would be in line behind at least 19,672,248 Filipinos who will need a Covid-19 vaccine before me, and my turn would fall within October 3, 2021 to May 29, 2022,” the Filipino engineer added.

How vaccine queue calculator works

According to Alambra and Sagnip, the vaccine queue calculator will also indicate “how long it might be before you get both doses of the vaccine and be fully protected, based on the vaccination rate.”

“We also considered a default uptake rate of 56 percent (because not everyone asked to receive the vaccine will accept it). We based this figure on a survey conducted in February 2021. If you want to change these values, you can do it in the Rollout of vaccines section of the calculator,” the two inventors wrote.

“If your LGU (local government unit) implements localized scheduling with SMS updates, consider the results in this calculator as supporting information about your probable schedule among the others on the priority list and the entire adult population of the Philippines,” they said.

According to the inventors, the results in their vaccine queue calculator “could also vary to the schedule provided by your LGU due to the possibility of a ‘no-show’ of persons ahead of you.”

“We know that waiting to get the vaccine might be frustrating. However, by prioritizing those people who are most at risk of hospitalization and death, we should quickly be able to save lives with this fantastic new weapon against the virus,” they said.

Meanwhile, in its “Changelog” dated April 2, 2021, the inventors updated the current actual rate of vaccination to the running average vaccination rate of 32,940 individuals vaccinated per day as released by the Department of Health after vaccinating 738,913 individuals in the country as of March 30, 2021.

They also updated the estimated Philippine government's target vaccination rate to consider the remaining months of the year 2021 and an uptake rate of 50 percent.

Priority list

As the Philippine government rolled out its vaccination program amid a limited supply of vaccine shots in February this year, it also created a priority list for those eligible groups for its first phase.

The Filipino vaccine queue calculator inventors noted on how the list is divided into three priority groups, starting with frontline health workers, field workers, contract tracers, and barangay health stations (including emergency response teams), and other frontline workers in government agencies, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities in the age bracket of 18-59 years old, frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel, and remaining indigent population as identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

This is followed by other workers and people with a high risk of exposure to Covid-19, like teachers, social workers, other government workers, people with disabilities as determined by the DSWD, those deprived of their liberty, and all indigenous people; and finally, the remaining Filipino citizens of about 38 million in population.

By April, the government reportedly targeted to inoculate 500,000 to 1 million Filipinos per week.

As of Friday, April 9, the country's Covid-19 infections reached a record-breaking number of 840,554, with 178,351 active cases, 647,683 recoveries and 14,520 deaths.


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