Tracking COVID-19 vaccines: UWinnipeg alumna aims to inform the public

University of Winnipeg alumna Erica Moodie. Photo supplied.

“As we learn more about SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it is clear that ‘normal life’ is unlikely without a vaccine.”

McGill University’s Dr. Erica Moodie, Professor of Biostatistics, and her colleague Dr. Nicole Basta, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, are co-leading a team of researchers who, together, have created a new website, COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, to follow the progress of COVID-19 vaccines across the world.

Moodie, who graduated from The University of Winnipeg in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and statistics, says while there are a number of other websites tracking drugs, vaccines, and cases, this one is different because of their approach, which is to create a reliable information source for the global public.

“We’ve developed straightforward content and visualizations to break down the complex landscape of vaccine development into manageable pieces,” Moodie said. “Visitors to our site can hover over our COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker Map and find out how many vaccine candidates and how many trials are ongoing in each country.”

On the main webpage, an innovative card-based system designed by Moodie and Basta’s team gives each vaccine candidate a summary card displaying the name, primary developer/sponsor, highest phase clinical trial underway, and shows the technology used to develop the vaccine. 

Countries are colour-coded by the highest-level phase of clinical trial ongoing in that specific country.

With a lot COVID-19 misinformation on the Internet, Moodie says it’s important to provide clear, accurate, and reliable information about how vaccines are developed and to make sure everyone is well-informed that they typically go through many levels of testing to ensure they’re safe and effective.

This is especially important during this pandemic, given the urgency to create a vaccine under accelerated timelines.

“For any vaccine to be truly successful at a population level, uptake needs to be high and so that requires confidence,” Moodie said. “I am a big believer in confidence coming from solid, reliable information from independent sources. We aim for our site to be one such source.”

As vaccines advance through trial phases and are, eventually, introduced to the general public, the goal is add new content and features on topics related to the vaccine rollout.

“There are many new challenges that will be faced once a vaccine is available and we as a global community need to figure how to use it to protect as many people as possible, even when doses are limited,” she said.

Moving forward, Moodie says Basta, who is the vaccine expert, will be developing a suite of similar trackers to monitor the progress of the hundreds of vaccine candidates that are being developed to protect against a number of other high-priority diseases.

You can visit the website here:

Brandon Logan, Digital Communications Coordinator
The University of Winnipeg