COVID vaccine rollout has the potential to bring relief to billions of people around the world. But as encouraging as these programs may be, it is extremely important to note that a vaccine cannot be as effective if it is not effectively distributed and trusted by the public.
IBM Blockchain has a vaccine distribution network for manufacturers to proactively monitor for adverse events and improve recall management. Moderna is planning to explore vaccine traceability with the IBM blockchain.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is planning to launch a system of digital ‘passports’ as proof that passengers have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Blockchain technology could offer a better data-storage system for such vaccination records. A decentralized blockchain ledger would be anonymous, immutable and transparent and the entries can be publicly audited.
A vaccine blockchain system could support vaccine traceability and smart contract functions and can be used to address the problems of vaccine expiration and vaccine record fraud. Additionally, the use of machine learning models can provide valuable recommendations to immunization practitioners and recipients, allowing them to choose better immunization methods and vaccines as recommended by this study. A blockchain-based system developed by Singapore-based Zuellig Pharma can help governments and healthcare providers manage vaccine distribution and administration. UK hospitals are using blockchain to track the temperature of coronavirus vaccines.
In my opinion, a blockchain application in healthcare should satisfy the following characteristics:
- Both patient and provider should have an interest in the decentralized storage of the concerned piece of information. One party may be neutral, but there should not be a collision of interests.
- One or more third parties should have an interest in this information and may have a reason not to trust the patient or provider.
- The information should be a dynamic time-bound list that requires periodic updating.
- The privacy concern related to the concerned information should be minimal.
- The information should not be easy to measure or procure from other sources.
Vaccination satisfies the above criteria and as such blockchain may be a good solution for this problem. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had played a bit with solidity and made a web application with three different views:
- Provider view: From this view, a provider can extend an offer to save the information on the blockchain to a patient.
- Patient view: From this view, a patient can accept an offer extended by a provider.
- Lookup view: To look up information on any patient.
Vac-chain is a prototype of on-chain storage of vaccination information on Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts in solidity using the truffle Drizzle box (React/Redux).