StaTwig to take a shot at global speed delivery of Covid vaccine

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on July 24, 2020

The start-up is building an end-to-end AI/blockchain-based suppy chain

The world is anxiously waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine to be approved. While it’s one thing to make the vaccine, it’s quite another to distribute it rapidly so that large populations get inoculated quickly. A Hyderabad-based start-up is gearing up for just that.

Even as there is encouraging news from the AstraZeneca-Oxford-driven vaccine research initiative and the ICMR-Bharat Biotech trials, young start-up StaTwig has built an innovative artificial intelligence and blockchain-based supply chain technology that can seamlessly supply vaccines across the world.

The start-up has been founded by a Silicon Valley-returnee Sid Chakravarthy, and incubated at the T-Hub.

To find ways to speed deliveries, StaTwig is engaging with research teams at the University of California, Berkeley; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; GAVI, the vaccine alliance; and Unicef, which supplies about 45 per cent of vaccines globally.

“Just imagine the challenge of supplying vaccines across more than 150 countries and the likely scramble to get supplies. It is mind blowing,” says Chakravarthy.

“Even in a normal environment, when millions of vaccine doses are supplied, it is a challenge to keep track of the progress right from the company where the production happens to the final place administration”, he says.

He also points to the problem of expiry of vaccines. About 20-30 per cent of vaccines tend to expire by the time they reach the target populace.

Experts have estimated that even if a vaccine for Covid-19 is out soon, it could take at least two years to inoculate India’s population alone. Significantly, India could play a major role in delivery as it distributes about 60 per cent of vaccines globally.

Tracking products

Chakravarthy says that it was in 2016, after tinkering with the idea of how to track a product right from where it gets manufactured to see how it gets delivered and who uses it, he realised that most companies do not have any clue as to what happens after they make a product.

“Thereafter, we engaged with the Smart Village Programme of the University of California for delivery of essentials. The early validation was by way of delivery of fishery items from Andhra Pradesh to other parts of the world maintaining the quality right up to the time of actual consumption.” The start-up seeks to reduce the time lag in delivery by focussing on tracking every dose. “We have developed a Vaccine Ledger, which helps track every single dose, right from the time it is manufactured, it is given a unique ID, moves through complex supply chains from one government to another, then to the healthcare set-up and, finally, where it is administered,” he explains.

Grants received

StaTwig has received grants under the Social Impact Initiative of the Unicef CryptoFund, and investments from a venture arm of IIM-Ahmedabad. “We are looking at funding as we scale up and meet the upcoming challenge of delivery of the vaccine,” says Chakravarthy.

Published on July 24, 2020

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