The contemporary era is characterized by an extensive diffusion of new information and communication technology. In parallel, recent advancements in technology have made it easy to collect data and analyze information from multiple sources. Various sectors have been leveraging big data to gain valuable insights in the past, present, and future. Sectors like marketing or meteorology have honed the art of real-time acquisition of highly complex data, which eventually provides a detailed lens of our physical environment. However, in the field of public health, surveillance systems have primarily been based on manually collected data, which is slow to comprehend and an expensive process.
The present era of globalization has dawned in the health sector which is based purely on data, including electronic health (e-health), patient records and other digital data sources like social media, internet, remote sensing, and smartphones. The last few years have witnessed dramatic advances in data collection and digitization, and the field of infectious disease research is not immune to the big data revolution. A real-life example of data analytics can be ascertained from the fight against the Zika virus. Previously, data analytics have played a laudable role in containing other viral outbreaks such as Ebola, Dengue, and seasonal flu among others. Infusion of advanced analytics and big data is the healthcare infrastructure has proved to a boon for everyone.
Vaccination 3.0 framework
The history of vaccination goes back to the 1790s when the famous Edward Jenner created the first smallpox vaccine. That can be termed as Vaccinology 1.0. With advancements in the medical field and other domain, second-generation vaccination was introduced, a.k.a Vaccinology 2.0, which includes influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, etc. Big data will drive the Vaccinology 3.0 framework. With the world going digital, more and more health systems and physicians are transitioning towards online record keeping which amasses a wealth of data. Big data is helping in vaccine discovery, development, as well as creating a safety monitoring to generate information about how the people react to the vaccine education. Big data is also helping to collect information related to vaccines through smartphone applications. Understanding the search behavior of people while they search for vaccination and other keywords, it can bring forward a lot of insights. With diseases like measles making a comeback, there is an urgent need to leverage the benefits of big data to provide insight into the future of disease prevention. Another notable benefit of Vaccinology 3.0 is the electric vaccination records which are vital to the advancement of disease prevention. In countries like the United Kingdom, these records help to pinpoint areas where vaccination uptake is low. This information is then provided to target doctors for educating them and raise the vaccination acceptable numbers. The revolutionizing era of big data will facilitate the discovery, development, and production of much-needed vaccines. Big data can also be used to track the success of any vaccination campaign with respect to its coverage rate etc.
There are endless possibilities with big data and vaccinology. Such possibilities can be explored further to help deliver holistic and safe health to people around the world.