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Vaccine Mapper: Knowledgebase web tool to track COVID-19 vaccine developers

By Milan Budhathoki

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in early 2020 citing that the disease had high human-to-human transmission and it's severity to public health. As the COVID-19 outbreak began, many researchers and bio-pharma around the world were working diligently to find a vaccine that potentially cures SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 global pandemic. Development of a successful vaccine would take several years and it is a tedious process that involves complex science, and thorough scrutiny by the government (i.e, authorizing body) before administering it to humans to prevent/cure disease. In-contrast to the traditional pipeline in vaccine development, COVID-19 pandemic had led to an urgency in developing vaccines at record speed. In the past, not many people were interested in the vaccine development model/science and business until COVID-19 pandemic hit hard on humanitarian and economic development.
Figure 1: Vaccine Development Pipeline (source:

There are few organization/website that keep records of COVID-19 vaccine candidates including WHO COVID-19 Vaccine Landscape, Milken Institute COVID-19 vaccine tracker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Vaccine Center COVID-19 vaccine tracker and The New York Times Vaccine Tracker. However, these websites/tools lack information on scientific characteristics of vaccine candidates which is a key for analyzing biological components to understand the vaccines research. To overcome this, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland Libraries and University of Notre Dame developed Vaccine Mapper that serves as a state-of-art web-based visual analytics platform to track COVID-19 vaccine candidates under study and their metadata analysis.

The Vaccine Mapper, a data-discovery tool that features location of vaccine developers around the world with the key scientific information on their vaccine design, progress and other information. It was first launched to the public on May 20, 2020 that covered around 100 CVOID-19 vaccine candidates at different clinical stages.To date, the tool has tracked 284 candidates, for which many of them are still under study and only a handful of them are approved for emergency use. The team periodically collects information on vaccine candidates from various public sources to update the tool as appropriate.

Figure 2: Vaccine Mapper- Vaccine Candidates page

The Vaccine Mapper's record shows that there has been a huge diversity of vaccine candidates in development for a single disease that differ in terms of their development platforms, delivery systems, co-administered adjuvants, route of administration and manufacturing requirements. This record number of vaccine candidates provides one of a kind opportunity to determine the state of vaccine science, compare diverse vaccine development strategies, and identify emerging innovations as well as knowledge gaps in the field.

The Vaccine Mapper has two major interfaces: Vaccine Candidates (landing page) and Vaccine Design. The landing page has a map showing location of al COVID-19 vaccine developers globally, chart showing candidate's development stages, list of developers that are awarded Operation Warp Speed, candidates publication where applicable etc. Whereas, Vaccine Design tab emphasis on vaccine development platform, delivery system and delivery route with graphs and charts.

Figure 3: VaccineMapper: Vaccine Design page

This tool is user-friendly and allows audiences to discover information on COVID-19 vaccine candidates and their biological characteristics. The mapper features essential information products like, maps, graphs, charts and lists that are interactively linked to allow users to filter data to get the answers they want. For example, within the Vaccine Design tab, if a user selects the section of the pie chart showing mRNA under the vaccine development platform that automatically refines charts for the vaccine delivery system and routes (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: VaccineMapper: Vaccine Design parameter filtering

This web tool was built using ArcGIS Online Dashboard- a cloud geospatial infrastructure powered by ESRI that supports location-based analytics using interactive data visualizations. A frequently updated version of Vaccine Mapper is available on Github: Direct link to VaccineMapper: Any questions about Vaccine Mapper can be directed to Milan Budhathoki at

Milan Budhathoki is GIS Librarian at University of Maryland Libraries who is a lead developer of Vaccine Mapper dashboard.