CONTRA Project report #1: Requirements identification and system mapping
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The research project “COVID-19 Network Technology-based Responsive Action” (CONTRA), funded by the Research Council of Norway, commenced in June 2020. The CONTRA project develops a decision support system (DSS) based on mathematical modeling and stochastic optimization, and machine learning tools for designing a robust COVID-19 vaccine distribution network. The project follows two main objectives within two phases. In response to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak, rapid analyses will provide actionable advice to public health authorities in Norway regarding vaccine distribution and delivery to responders. This phase involved a systematic study of vaccine distribution system actors in Norway and their decision-making needs. Based on such insights, the project will develop a DSS based on mathematical models to support designing the vaccine distribution network. The DSS should contribute to the effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and sustainability of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The proposed solution will also support vaccine distribution in future pandemics. The report describes the results of the first work package (WP) in the CONTRA project. The WP1 aims to identify the key actors in the vaccine distribution network in Norway, map their relation to each other, and distinguish critical decisions in the system. Moreover, the report presents an overview of related research on vaccine distribution networks, related decision support systems, and the progress in the literature about the COVID-19 pandemic. Through preliminary interviews, document review, and a workshop with multiple representatives from Norwegian public health authorities, the current vaccine distribution system is analyzed, and its actors have been mapped. This system map is the basis for further discussion both within the project team and with stakeholders. It should be noted that this map will change throughout the project due to the additional insights from other validation opportunities and the fact that the COVID-19 context is dynamic and is changing permanently. However, the system map has served as a basis for the problem definition in the CONTRA project. Based on our findings from the stakeholder workshop and system mapping, we have decided to focus on defining and studying the central vaccine allocation problem (CVAP), which is faced by Public Health Institute (FHI). As such, the CONTRA will investigate the problem of determining the amount of each vaccine to be shipped to every municipality. CVAP is challenged by the scarce amount of vaccines, the current immunization level, population, and priority groups in each municipality. In our project, CVAP will be formulated as a multi-objective resource allocation problem. Specifically, we will define and formulate objectives related to the following performance dimensions: efficacy (e.g., total coverage, coverage per priority group, etc.), efficiency and sustainability (e.g., logistics costs, waste), and fairness (e.g., distribution of efficacy among municipalities). The next step in the project will be to validate the problem definition and develop the mathematical model (second work package). Moreover, two individual reports for the actors map and system map will be published in the upcoming months by project partners.