How Can Blockchain Help Us To Get The Coronavirus Vaccine? Today, we’ll answer this question. But first, did you know that ever since COVID-19 became a global pandemic with millions infected and around 2.77 million dead, pharmaceutical companies worldwide have been racing against the clock to create a vaccine.
Thanks to their relentless efforts, we see several different COVID-19 vaccines from leading companies like AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer being used across the world.
Ever since the Spanish flu outbreak a century ago, the world has never witnessed such a severe outbreak, which devastated our everyday lives as well as the global economy. As of now, millions of people have already been inoculated, at least for the first round of vaccinations.
However, there are hundreds of millions of people around the world still waiting for their first dose. And the major problem is there is a shortage of vaccines, and the vaccine distribution is still facing significant hurdles, especially in the US. Existing technology has become overwhelmed and inefficient in maintaining, distributing, and safeguarding the vials from thefts and poor management.
Experts believe blockchain technology offers a respite given its class-leading security and transparency. You’re probably asking—isn’t blockchain-related with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges? How would it be helpful here? How blockchain can help with the vaccine rollout to all healthcare facilities and patients is what we will be discussing here.
Issues Affecting The COVID-19 Vaccine
Specific maintenance and monitoring is a prerequisite for the COVID-19 vaccine vials. Each company’s vaccine comes with different temperature requirements, and doses must be distributed before their expiration. The problem is the vials are handled and maintained through several handlers throughout the supply chain.
As COVID-19 vaccines are relatively scarce, they’ve become prized commodities. People would do anything to get their hands on them ASAP. This makes them highly vulnerable to theft, smuggling, and counterfeiting.
This is one of the most extensive and complicated distribution processes for a vaccine the world has ever seen. Many facilities are plagued with distribution errors, and existing healthcare IT systems are overwhelmed by the rollout. There have been reported incidents that the massive demand for vaccine appointments has crashed some health facilities’ IT systems.
4. Monitoring Recipients
Once eligible recipients have received both doses of the vaccine, healthcare facilities need to monitor them for adverse side effects. Furthermore, to stop and slow the spread of the illness, it’s vital for everyone involved to know who has received the vaccine. With millions of people already vaccinated, this feat seems next to impossible. However, companies are trying to mitigate the issue through the issuance of a ‘health passport.’
Can Blockchain Expedite The COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout?
When people hear of Blockchain, they typically associate it with cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. But blockchain encompasses beyond the confines of just a digital ledger of transactions for cryptocurrencies. The security and verifiability of blockchain can expedite the mass production, distribution, and monitoring of the vaccine in an urgent timeframe.
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The pandemic has forced the government to impose lockdown and strict social distancing measures. As a result, people are compelled to adapt to working remotely or from their homes. Social media and video chatting platforms have become the default mode of connecting with people for socializing and work while social distancing. That may be enough for work and getting in touch with people, but the vaccine needs something more powerful and stable. That’s where blockchain comes in.
Earlier, we mentioned most people associate blockchain with Bitcoins or cryptocurrencies. That’s partly true; blockchain technology is something more than that. Blockchain is a decentralized network that is used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc., and many other applications. It consists of individual “blocks” to maintain digital ledgers about transactions and exchanges. Data entered in decentralized blockchains are irreversible. It means once any transaction is entered, it’s permanently recorded and can be viewed by anyone.
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As for the COVID-19 vaccine, a tracking technology can be integrated within the supply chain to monitor every vial. Blockchain can be used to store that information. The ledger will have each exchange’s information and the other specifics about how the vials are stored in the facilities. Given the security and transparency of the blockchain—no one can delete or manipulate the information. Only data can be added. As the blockchain is almost impossible to infiltrate, the stored information would remain accurate.
This type of integration would considerably lessen the issues plaguing the vaccines since they were approved— potential theft and improper storage. Without an effective and efficient distribution system, it will take many years for everybody to get the first dose of the vaccine. Therefore, distribution facilities could use blockchain to consign specific vials to patients who need them. This will expedite and optimize the entire process.
When it comes to monitoring, facilities can potentially use blockchain to track the vaccine recipients and those who have received the vaccine. However, the recipients would require to show some form of proof or verification, which can’t be edited, manipulated, or falsified. Since blockchain technology doesn’t allow information to be removed or edited within its ledgers, it is only logical to utilize the network for storing vital health records.
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Moving on, ever since its introduction, blockchain technology has been synonymous with transparency and security. The vaccine companies, healthcare facilities, the government, and the general public need a reliable and secure way to make this vaccine available for people everywhere quickly. And, the blockchain technology with its safe, transparent, and private features—the dream of getting vaccines into the grasps of healthcare workers and the general populations could become a reality.
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