Last year, researchers around the world achieved the unprecedented feat of developing a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus within a year. However, governments around the world are now faced with the daunting task of delivering and administering vaccines to everyone so that we can put this pandemic behind us (if that’s even possible). For this, there’s one breakthrough technology that can be a game-changer. Using blockchain technology to track Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturer to patient provides a solution to many problems that have and will arise as the world fights to achieve herd immunity.
What is blockchain technology?
Unless you’ve been living with your head in the sand for the last five years, you’ll have come across the phrase Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). However, the hard part comes about when you try to understand exactly what blockchain or a distributed ledger actually is. In short, it is a database – storage infrastructure for data – that’s secured by both encryption and by being decentralized. Using cryptographic functions that require a lot of computational power to calculate (which you can find out more about in the 2008 Bitcoin whitepaper, databases are secured not only through encryption but also because changes to the database go through every node of the system, where copies are sent out to each ledger (read: user). So if I make a change to the ledger or try to hack into it, you, and every other person that’s connected to the ledger, have to approve the transaction and it is impossible to do it without reaching a consensus. The dual-layered security protocols of encryption and the distributed ledger enables cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Bitcoin and Ripple to be exchanged in a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”. However, this has several other applications, such as in financial services, logistics and even healthcare. And, it is the latter that could make a huge difference in the world today.
How blockchain can help distribute Covid-19 vaccines
As reported by Forbes in their list of The Six Biggest Blockchain Trends Everyone Should Know About In 2021, “governments around the world are facing a huge task in distributing [Covid-19 vaccines] to their populations. With limited supply and the need to be kept in refrigerated conditions, this is a great example of a problem for which blockchain provides a solution.”
Currently leading the way in blockchain based solutions for Covid-19 vaccines are IBM, while two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, according to Reuters.
This means that tracking and distributing vaccines has the potential to be a significantly easier task, with the supply chain optimised and a system that will also ensure that when vaccines have been exposed to above minimum temperatures that they are discarded, for example.
The use of blockchain technology for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines could be a serious game-changer and may take us a long way forward in the fight against this pandemic and whatever will come in the future.