A Chatbot That Helps People Get Answers About COVID19 Vaccines

The Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health teamed up with IBM researchers to develop and launch a chatbot to answer COVID-19 vaccine questions. The chatbot, called VIRA (the Vaccine Information Resource Assistant) has won several awards.

VIRA can help people get answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines from anywhere in the world, however, VIRA knows more about vaccines used in the United States at this time.  “VIRA” can only look up questions in the database of messages approved by Johns Hopkins vaccine scientists.

IBM researchers have been working on this project with the JHU team since December 2020, analyzing common concerns and queries related to the vaccines, and different ways in which people express them. The system is designed to continually learn from new conversations, by detecting emerging concerns and learn new ways in which people express existing ones.

VIRA is also available in Spanish.