Tara Zver, Berend Markhorst, Nina Malbašić, Renze Dijkstra and Daan Otto used mathematics to solve a difficult practical problem. It all started in February, when they won the TKI DINALOG challenge, an initiative of the Creative Industry, Logistics, ICT and LSH ‘Top Sectors’. Thanks to the ensuing publicity, the students were approached by Chiel Noppe of ASML, who co-developed a volunteer initiative, and they were also introduced to GGD GHOR (the joint Regional Medical Assistance Organizations).
With financial assistance from VU Amsterdam, CWI (the national research institute for mathematics and computer science) and GGD GHOR, the five students set to work to develop a mathematical model to improve vaccination planning. The students were advised during the project by Professor Rob van der Mei of VU Amsterdam and CWI and lecturer of Logistics Dennis Moeke of HAN University of Applied Sciences.
The model they developed was deployed in the field in early June and enabled smarter distribution of the vaccines between the various Municipal Health Service (GGD) vaccination locations, so that the Dutch population could be vaccinated more quickly. Moreover, the innovative approach led to a more even vaccination rate between the various GGD regions.
The various involved parties are already thinking about their next steps, such as implementing the approach in future vaccination campaigns. For example, they are looking at how they could improve the selection of locations for vaccination sites using mathematical models. What started out as a student project in January has already evolved into a solution that is being used at the national level to improve public health.