Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A free game launched today allows players to role-play the deployment of a virtual vaccine to help to halt the global spread of a viral pandemic.

The Vaccination Game, created by researchers at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM), in collaboration with Goldsmiths, University of London, challenges players to figure out how they can deploy limited doses of the vaccine to best control a disease modelled on influenza.

The idea of developing a game was conceived by Professor Hal Drakesmith and colleagues who are part of a research network focussing on immunising babies and mothers to fight infections in low and middle-income countries. Following funding from, and in collaboration with the IMPRINT research network, they were able to begin development of the game.

'We originally had the idea of the game and began developing it back in 2019, with influenza as our example disease,' said Professor Drakesmith, who is based at the MRC WIMM. 'Then COVID-19 struck, and the ideas behind the game are obviously much more relevant.”

'Our game isn’t intended as a modelling or simulation tool, or meant to predict real-world scenarios', Professor Drakesmith said. 'Instead, we hope it’s educational, as it illustrates how vaccines can work on a global scale, and shows that precisely how a vaccine is deployed across populations can be crucial to its effectiveness.'

Professor Drakesmith and his group collaborated with the Analysis, Visualisation and Informatics group, also based in the MRC WIMM, to develop the game. They also worked with Goldsmiths, University of London, to produce the final version based on mathematical models of how a virus spreads, and what effect a vaccine might have.

The Vaccination Game - Flu Vaccine Intro Page

The virtual vaccine in the game is available in limited doses per week and the player has to decide who to vaccinate in each of 99 cities worldwide that are part of the game. At the end of the campaign, the player receives a report as to how well they played the game and how many lives were saved by the vaccine.

Steve Taylor, Group Leader of the Analysis, Visualisation and Informatics group said, 'You can replay the game multiple times to improve strategy and save more lives – it is possible to do very well!'

Professor Drakesmith said 'We hope players find The Vaccination Game interesting, useful and fun to play.'

The game can be played online here: https://bit.ly/3d5dwh0

Similar stories

Wellcome Trust funding success for Jim Hughes and James Davies

£3.6 million in funding awarded by the Wellcome Trust to combine cutting-edge 3D genome technologies with machine learning approaches to decipher the role of the non-coding genome in disease.

Fundraising for award in memory of Dr Ling Felce

The Ling Felce award will promote cross-disciplinary excellence in bioinformatics.

Study of T-cell receptor activation leads to surprising discovery

A study from Davis Group is the first to describe the structure of the T-cell receptor when bound to an activating ligand. The findings shed light on an important trigger in the immune system, and suggest a completely new process by which cell receptors can be activated.

Biotech spinout MiroBio acquired by Gilead Sciences for ~£332m

Co-founded by Prof. Simon Davis, MiroBio focuses on developing therapeutics for inflammatory diseases.

New study shines light on the complex mechanisms of Fetal Growth Restriction in pregnancy

The paper, published in Nature Communications reveals key genes involved in the common developmental disease.