Vonage has announced a new partnership with WhatsApp, which will extend access to VIRA – the COVID-19 vaccine information chatbot – to WhatsApp users across the globe.
Providing trustworthy vaccine-related information on the go, the chatbot was originally designed by the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Specialists from the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health and Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering also brought their expertise to the project.
The trusty team soon developed a dependable solution, giving users 24-hour access to evidence-based answers, pre-vetted by the vaccine scientists at John Hopkins University. Such replies are regularly updated, while the bot tracks any new questions that users ask. Leveraging this ability, which was made possible by IBM Key Points adaptive technology, scientists can respond to queries as soon as they emerge.
Through the chatbot, WhatsApp offers a meaningful service that connects people to authoritative COVID-19 vaccine information. To do so during the most prominent public health crisis of our time is something that Christina LoNigro, social impact initiatives lead at WhatsApp, is incredibly proud of. Discussing the initiative, she says:
We are working with health ministries and governments around the world to help get their populations registered for vaccinations directly within WhatsApp.
Expanding from a web-based chatbot, VIRA is part of WhatsApp’s global COVID-19 Program. Since the onset of the pandemic, WhatsApp has partnered with over 350 health authorities, connecting people to potentially life-saving information. To date, over four billion messages have been sent over these helplines. Thanks to the Vonage Messages API, this figure is set to rise even further.
Yet, embedding the VIRA chatbot into WhatsApp also increases its sophistication. The bot may now send notifications and messages alongside essential, targeted, real-time information to users.
Excited by this possible evolution of the VIRA bot, Joy Corso, CMO at Vonage, says:
With the Vonage Messages API for WhatsApp, we are helping institutions like Johns Hopkins connect and engage with users from virtually anywhere, on-demand.
“Access to up-to-date healthcare and protective guidance information is crucial to staying safe and healthy,” he continues. “Vonage is proud to be partnering with Johns Hopkins on such an important public service.”
Open WhatsApp and message +1 410-401-0306 to chat with VIRA. In doing so, users can learn more about vaccine effectiveness, safety, eligibility, and other mitigation measures.