The US Centers for Disease Control claims vaccine storage and transport issues are responsible for nearly 10% of the 65 million COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in the US the past two years. To address this vaccine logistics challenge, the North Carolina Collaboratory and analytics leader SAS are using IoT analytics and sensor data from vaccine storage freezers to strengthen cold chain integrity and improve dosage delivery, particularly to underserved and rural communities.
Established by the state legislature in 2016 and headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the NC Collaboratory is a research and policy organization that taps into the resources and expertise of all 17 institutions of the University of North Carolina System. Among these institutions are several historically minority-serving institutions and remote campuses that host ultra-low temperature freezers that support more equitable vaccine distribution to underserved communities. The NC Collaboratory provided 63 freezers across the state, with a capacity of 9.3 million vaccine doses, nearly enough for every person in the state.
The NC Collaboratory turned to SAS® Analytics for IoT and Microsoft Azure to select, transform and operationalize data — without coding — from sensors across 10 freezer locations at universities, in addition to third-party public health data. The project monitored the impact of factors including temperature, humidity, vibration during transport, opening and closing, duration in storage and freezer capacity, while tapping predictive insights and intelligent alerting capabilities to identify and address potential dosage loss and regional vaccine shortages.
“COVID-19 created the largest and most complex medical logistics program in modern history,” said Jeff Warren, Executive Director of the NC Collaboratory. “One of the most formidable challenges has been to protect supply chain integrity as vaccines are transported and stored from manufacturers to administration sites – particularly those in hard-to-reach, underserved communities. Our project with SAS demonstrated how IoT analytics and technologies can be a game changer in getting more vaccines to more people.”