As the entire world is now undergoing a phase of COVID-19 vaccination, there is a need for a system that can ensure transparency in vaccination and related details such as available supply, status tracking, etc. However, most of the world’s countries, including the U.S., lack such a reliable & efficient system for vaccine tracking. Blockchain might help.
Countries like the U.K. are already experimenting with blockchain and other modern technologies like IoT and AI for efficient management of vaccine supply chains.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) that offers a unique way of storing and sharing data across the network in a totally transparent and immutable manner. Simply put, it can provide a way for transparently managing and sharing vaccination records on a global network that is accessible by all participants.
Blockchain records are immutable, i.e. the records stored on a blockchain network cannot be changed or deleted, and therefore, can be trusted completely. Moreover, all data on the blockchain can be verified by all network nodes individually, which means all the network participants will know the status of vaccination and/or the transport status. This further ensures that the real-time status of vaccine supplies is transparent and can be seen by everyone.
How it works – Blockchain for transparency in COVID vaccination supply chains
Blockchain when combined with other advanced technologies will not only provide a way to transparently manage vaccination records but also can help with other things such as safe transport of vaccines, timely distribution and vaccination, detect and avoid side-effects, and more.
IoT, for instance, can be integrated into the systems to monitor the vaccine temperature during transportation. It can record the temperature data, which are then securely stored in the blockchain ledger. The smart contracts linked with the blockchain can track the temperature records to detect any change in temperature. If so, quick actions can be taken immediately to save the supply and restore the temperature.
Similarly, AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be used along with blockchain to predict appropriate actions based on available data pertaining to the distribution of vaccines and logistics management. Blockchain can deliver trustworthy vaccination data consistently for AI to predict challenges such as logistics delays and possible side-effects of the vaccine on some people. At the same time, it can offer ways to overcome these challenges to ensure efficient distribution, etc.
And since blockchain is already a global network not limited by any regional boundaries, it can be practically used to track and maintain the vaccine supply data of all the countries on one network, thus ensuring adequate supply as and when is needed. This will also help reduce wastage and make sure that excess supply is used where it is needed the most.
To sum up,
We already have some of the best technologies at our disposal, and even big tech giants such as IBM are willing to use these technologies for efficient COVID-19 supply management. However, this won’t be possible without the permission and support of the world governments.
One of the core benefits of blockchain is the transparent management of supply chains in a variety of industries. This is also true for vaccine supply management. Blockchain can bring transparency and immutability in COVID vaccination records management, distribution, transportation and application.