COVID vaccinations in Japan finally began on February 17th, starting with medical workers, but the question on everyone’s mind is “when is my turn coming?”
Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination plan has finally begun, and like other countries, guidelines are directing the first round of shots to medical workers, who will be followed by senior citizens. But just like everywhere else, it’s hard to keep a handle on how fast this process will move, and what factors will affect each person’s priority status according to the guidelines. Which means that many residents are stuck wondering “but when can I get the vaccine?”
In response to this national curiosity, one particular app has gotten quite a bit of attention in Japan, with friends and family sharing news and posting their results on the internet. This app predicts the approximate time until your chance at a COVID vaccine, and they say it’s doing it using artificial intelligence.
This particular AI calculator is actually just one new function within a larger app calls “News Digest,” which aggregates news and alerts users to new stories. Accessible via the free app’s top page, all it takes is a few clicks and some basic information to get a prediction, an ease of use vital to the page’s popularity.
News Digest collected data from more than 1,700 local governments to develop the AI Vaccine Prediction page, and in their results they found that 23% of the regions queried predicted that they would be unable to vaccinate all residents before the end of 2021. Regions will small populations were especially concerned that vaccination plans might end up prolonged. All of this is factored into the page’s programming, which analyzes basic data like each region’s demographic statistics along with the vaccination plans of different administrative districts, to find a likely prediction.
The AI Vaccine Prediction page’s development was overseen by Yusuke Narita, assistant professor of economics at Yale, who explained “we’re hoping to contribute to speeding up the process and helping vaccines get delivered to every region by clarifying actual distribution variables through the power of data science.”
We can only hope that the data gathered for this app will not only satisfy the general public’s curiosity, but also help with the process of getting the vaccines into the hands (and arms) of all who need them!