PanElixir: a cure for all

Photo courtesy of PanElixir

PanElixir is a website that tracks COVID-19 vaccine development and vaccine doses administered worldwide. The site also has a vaccine database and features COVID-19 related articles. It can be found at

Caroline Yeow, Senior Reporter

In the spring of 2020, New York City was the epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S. The bustling city skidded to a halt; schools closed their doors, restaurants stood idle and brick and mortar stores hung up ‘closed’ signs. For current Burlingame junior Tony Liu, who was then an exchange student from Shanghai studying at Dwight School in New York City, the disconnect created by social distancing was palpable. Coupled with the anxiety surrounding rising cases, Liu saw a need to spread positive information about the pandemic to residents of New York City. With the help of his aunt, a current graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, Liu launched PanElixir, a website that tracks COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccine development. 

When Liu and his aunt started building PanElixir in June of 2020, the website’s main feature was a vaccine database that allowed users to track the development of various COVID-19 vaccines by monitoring a vaccine’s progression through trial phases. 

“We were thinking… ‘What is the best visual representation that allows the audience to understand the vaccine developing process?’ And so, we thought about a progress bar,” Liu said. 

PanElixir has since expanded and now boasts a plethora of features, ranging from an interactive world map that tracks vaccine doses administered, to a vaccine comparison tool that allows a user to quickly identify distinctions between vaccine brands, such as efficacy, number of doses needed per user and side effects. The site also features COVID-19-related news articles, scientific articles and an FAQ section that answers common vaccine questions. 

“One of the main reasons we started this website is [to spread] positive information. We want users to have hope about the future,” Liu said.

The website draws information from various sources, including The New York Times, Our World in Data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Liu aims to simplify lengthy articles and technical words, making them digestible for users through infographics and interactive tools. 

“There are many types of vaccines. We want to present to the user the information for different types of vaccines so that when it might be available to the general market, users can decide which vaccines are best for them,” Liu said.   

Although Liu had previous experience with coding from middle school, putting together a full-fledged website proved to be a challenge. Liu worked on his website while taking a web applications course at Harvard University over the summer, which helped him build the skills he needed. To overcome the many coding challenges he and his team faced, Liu studied working examples. 

“The challenging thing is that not all the code that exists online really works in your way… Sometimes you really do have to go through lots of examples. The main way we used to get through this [coding challenges] was through this process of learning ways to build new features and through experiments,” Liu said.  

Despite the difficulties of web development, Liu continues to improve upon PanElixir. A new section of the website, Bay Area Vaccination, is currently in beta. 

Liu’s inspiration for PanElixir stemmed from daily displays of solidarity he observed from New York citizens at the height of the pandemic, wanting to promote the same positivity on his website.

“Every day at 7 p.m., everybody would come out to their balcony. And they would give a big round of applause to the frontline workers that are currently helping the COVID-19 patients, and who are keeping everyone safe,” Liu said. 

The name “PanElixir” also represents unity during difficult times. The prefix “pan” means “all” or “everyone.” An elixir is a remedy, or a cure. Liu hopes that PanElixir will track vaccination progress until they reach their namesake goal: a cure for all.


*Correction: An earlier version of the story was incorrect, and has since been revised.