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Thailand Develops Robot to Optimize AstraZeneca Vaccine Doses

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Thailand Develops Robot to Optimize AstraZeneca Vaccine Doses

As Thailand struggles with the delta variant coronavirus outbreak, researchers have developed a robot to extract AstraZeneca vaccine doses and efficiently optimize dwindling supplies.

Researchers at Chulalongkorn University are using a robotic arm, the “AutoVacc” system can draw 12 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in four minutes from a vial. The machine has been used at the university’s vaccination centre since Monday.

The machine only works on AstraZeneca multi-dose vials currently and labels show each vial can provide 10 to 11 doses. “The machine guarantees with accuracy that we can gain an extra 20 per cent from each vaccine vial – from 10 to 12 doses,” said Dr Juthamas Ratanavaraporn, the lead researcher of the team at the university’s Biomedical Engineering Research Centre.

“The extra 20 per cent that we get means that if we have AstraZeneca for one million people, this machine can increase the number of doses to 1.2 million people,” said Juthamas.

While some health workers using low dead space syringes (LDSS) that aim to reduce wastage can draw up to 12 doses per vial, it requires manpower and a high level of skill, she said.

“This could drain a lot of the health workers’ energy. They would have to do this every day for many months,” Juthamas said.

So far, around nine per cent of Thailand’s population of more than 66 million have been fully vaccinated, with the rollout hindered by lower-than-anticipated vaccine supplies.

The research team say they should be able to produce 20 more AutoVacc units within three or four months, but that government funds and support would be needed to expand across Thailand.

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