On November 9, 2020, I watched a 60 Minutes segment (13 minutes): Operation Warp Speed: Planning the distribution of a future COVID-19 vaccine. The segment included a brief demonstration of the Tiberius software and a few interesting comments from General Perna.
Tiberius distribution software is designed to track the Covid vaccine distribution very closely by “combining data from all over the government and the shipping companies into one unified picture that everyone could see.” On November 9, it had been working for only two months.
At 8:50, the moderator, David Martin, asked “Will you be able to bang your fist on the table and say ”What happened to that shipment that was going to Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore?“
General Gustave Pena: “Yes, and not only that, after it gets there, how fast they’re administering the doses they were given.”
Next, the view shifted to Retired Colonel Deacon Mattox, standing next to a large projection of the software. He was briefing Pena and said, “This capability didn’t exist two months ago.”
Then the view switched back to General Pena, who appeared to say, through his face mask, “Shxxt,” and laughed.
Deacon Mattox responded: There are a lot of things to work through. Once the vaccine starts flowing, the amount of data Tiberius has to keep track of will multiply.
What we’re doing right now to get ready for the first dose is the easy part. When you get into the subsequent doses… that’s when this gets really hard.
In a December 20 Washington Post update story: “The faulty forecasts described by Perna were part of planning assumptions that had been built into Tiberius, a data system developed with Palantir, the Denver-based software company. The assumptions shared with states using that system were not updated, according to a federal health official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions. States have reported varying levels of comfort with the brand-new data system.”
I don’t know if Tiberius will cause more distribution problems. But, the vaccine distribution plan seemed very, very optimistic for a very new complicated critical software. When I first heard about the “missing” doses, my first thought was about Tiberius.
I could not forget what I heard about the Tiberius software on November 9. what would happen when the distribution started. I kept thinking about all the problems I have had with new software over the years. I had not watched 60 minutes for a very long time. A friend called me a said there was an interesting Covid segment on that date. Otherwise, I would have missed it. Fortunately, my Tivo had recorded the program.