Moderna and IBM team up on Covid-19 vaccine tracking

5 Mar 2021

Image: © tirachard/

‘If ever there was a time to rally around open technology and collaboration, it’s now,’ said IBM’s Jason Kelley.

Pharma company Moderna is working with IBM to explore how tech such as AI, blockchain and hybrid cloud could be used to support Covid-19 vaccine management.

This will include piloting open, standardised, tech-enabled vaccine distribution approaches aimed at improving supply chain visibility and enabling near real-time tracking of vaccine roll-outs.

The goal of the collaboration is to identify ways technology can be used to help accelerate secure information sharing between governments, healthcare providers, life sciences organisations and individuals.

“If ever there was a time to rally around open technology and collaboration, it’s now,’ said Jason Kelley, general manager of blockchain services at IBM.

“As governments, pharmacy chains, healthcare providers and life sciences companies continue to scale and connect their tools, and as new players enter the supply chain, open technology can help drive more transparency and bolster trust, while helping to ensure accessibility and equity in the process.”

Digital applications

Initially, the companies are planning to see how IBM tech could be applied in the US. This will include vaccine management systems that provide end-to-end traceability to address potential supply chain issues and enable secure data sharing between different parties.

They will also look at how IBM’s Digital Health Pass could be used. This system, built on blockchain technology, is designed to help individuals share personal health information in a secure way with a digital wallet on their smartphone, while allowing organisations to verify health credentials for employees or customers based on criteria such as test results, vaccination records and temperature checks.

Last December, IBM said it would integrate Digital Health Pass with Salesforce’s platform to help businesses verify employee health. Meanwhile, the state of New York announced this week that it is testing IBM’s technology at a number of sports events, allowing people to confirm if they have received a vaccine or a recent negative Covid-19 test before entering a venue.

Michael Mullette, managing director for North American commercial operations at Moderna, said the company is looking to “increase education and awareness of the importance of vaccination to help defeat Covid-19”. He added that working with IBM is expected to lead to digital innovations that will help “instil confidence” in the vaccine process.

Moderna is just one of the pharma companies rolling out a vaccine for Covid-19. Its two-dose mRNA vaccine is one of three that has been authorised for use in the EU so far, along with vaccines from AstraZeneca and BioNTech-Pfizer.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic