New York, Jan 16 (IANS) Researchers have developed a tool that may help to equitably distribute limited Covid-19 vaccines to prioritise vaccine distribution among people.
The tool helps identify those who are at greater risk of severe complications or death from Covid-19, according to a paper published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.
“Knowing we’re going to have limited vaccine for some time, we wanted to develop an algorithm to equitably distribute vaccinations within these risk groups,” said researcher Grace Flood from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
For the study, the team developed a tool that incorporates a person’s age and socio-economic status to prioritise vaccine distribution among people who otherwise share similar risks due to their jobs.
While the tool was designed with the first phase of eligible recipients in mind, it could be used as vaccine distribution expands to larger populations. As the eligible population increases, the gap between initial supply and demand could grow, making such prioritisation tools even more helpful, the researchers said.
In addition to age, the algorithm uses the Social Vulnerability Index to measure a person’s susceptibility to severe Covid-19 based on where they live.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the SVI metric to help emergency responders identify which neighbourhoods and towns will require the most support following natural disasters or public health emergencies.
The SVI incorporates 15 measures in four categories: socio-economic status, housing composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing and transportation. Race and ethnicity have been closely correlated with higher Covid-related hospitalisations and mortality.
The team incorporated the SVI in accordance with a report that recommended using the index to fairly distribute vaccines.
Since age and SVI are readily available pieces of information about an individual and each contributes to COVID-19 risk, an algorithm that incorporates both elements may serve as one of the best ways to distribute vaccines until supply catches up to demand, the researcher said.