Over the past several years, Blockchain technology has become increasingly useful in different industries. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Blockchain technology has only become more prominent.
Not only is Blockchain helping investors stay afloat with cryptocurrencies but it is also helping countries fight COVID-19.
Blockchain works as a shared and distributed database where transactions are recorded. The transactions on the system appear as blocks and are stored in a decentralized manner.
This means that no party has control over the data entered in the system and no one can tamper with the records. Initially, the system was applied in cryptocurrencies but today, it is applied in so many industries.
In the healthcare industry, blockchain is applied to keeping the medical records of patients. In the fight against COVID-19, blockchain cannot only be used to keep records but other applications need to be explored.
The use of blockchain in any industry is only limited by the imagination and the knowledge of the users.
Below are some of the ways Blockchain is helping and can help countries and institutions in fighting this and the next pandemic. Some countries and institutions are already using the technology as seen below.
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Today, one of the issues that governments are facing is the lack of enough health care workers. The conventional process of hiring takes long and is not even efficient.
Blockchain can help the US Ministry of Health and Human Services and the UK National Health Service, among other services in the world, to streamline their recruitment process.
Today, the NHS takes up to six months to recruit someone. But with a blockchain-enabled document verification platform, candidates can upload and verify their professional and personal documents.
Healthcare regulators can then view and verify these documents against the blockchain.
While it might take many months for the recruiters to verify an overseas candidate, especially foreign aid doctors, blockchain can help remove the obstacles.
Ministries can hire professionals from anywhere in the world within a few weeks. In the fight against the COVID-19, efficiency is needed without compromising on security.
Blockchain offers great traceability. It has the ability to provide a single point of truth where governments and institutions can track donations and medical supplies.
The COVID-19 Pandemic generates so many data points and mega data. With blockchain, governments have a platform they can trust in sharing and distributing data.
Hospital workers, first responders, ministries, and governments will have a single reference point to organize and quantify data to improve efficiency. With the pandemic, the efficient sharing of data can save lives.
A patient passport is a digital passport system that can help the healthcare industry keep track of patients and help those who are still not infected.
With the passport, a notification is generated whenever an individual enters a COVID-19 danger zone.
The passport means less paperwork for the healthcare industry, the ability to notify first responders of patients with pre-existing conditions, and even efficient data analysis.
The Chinese government is already using tracking apps. There are so many concerns about the privacy and security of these apps. Blockchain technology can help ensure the privacy of users.
These tracking apps use Bluetooth and wireless signals and users can report their symptoms through the apps.
In 2011, an app called FluPhone was developed by two Cambridge scientists. Today, scientists are turning to smartphone technology to fight the virus.
Recently, Google and Apple released new APIs that are compatible with healthcare apps seeking to fight Coronavirus. Such apps include the UK’s COVID Tracking App, Germany’s Smartwatch App, and WHO’s WAZE for COVID.
Blockchain can help enhance users’ privacy. With blockchain, users enter their data in a decentralized system where everyone can access data in real-time.
However, it is not possible to alter the original data from the system without attracting everyone’s attention. This makes the data secure, transparent, and gets rid of middlemen.
Patients need to be more confident with the medicine and the vaccines they receive. With blockchain technology, medication and vaccines can be tracked from the source to the consumers.
This way, consumers can be sure that the medicine they have is not counterfeit. To do this, all transactions need to be recorded on the blockchain.
The tokens used to record transactions act as certificates of authenticity – these tokens are harder to steal and cannot be hacked.
When institutions share data on the blockchain platform, it is easier to find a vaccine for COVID-19. Early this month, May 2020, the IBM Think Conference introduced Rapid Supplier Connect.
This is a platform that allows suppliers to use blockchain to enhance the speed at which they supply goods.
Another project that anyone can get into is MiPasa, which is a data hub that aggregates and shares data from many contributors. The data received is then shared so that different players can help combat COVID-19.
Before a vaccine is developed, doctors will need a way to track patients and help control the infection.
As billions of people stay locked in their houses, doctors are working to help trace contacts. Villanova University is one of the institutions working to develop a system to help fight the infection.
The University seeks to develop a permissioned blockchain for doctors. This platform will be used by doctors to trace COVID-19 positive cases to help curb further outbreaks.
With the platform, doctors and health care workers from all corners of the world can share information on those who are infected, thereby reducing further infections.
Although the Villanova project is still underway and is taking longer to come to life, the intention is clear.
Berlin is ahead of the curve. One of the tech companies, a startup called Spherity has already developed a decentralized identity system. This system helps patients to maintain their social distance while still accessing medication.
Another system is the Blockchain backed-up app that has already been released by the Honduran authorities which helps the authorities track and manage lockdown orders.
Today, more than six thousand Ethereum miners are taking part in the fight against COVID-19 by contributing to research at Stanford University. Stanford University seeks to pool GPU power to search for a vaccine for COVID-19.
There are many more research institutions that are coming up with platforms to help in the fight. When the platforms are blockchain-enabled, users are assured of their privacy. Even better, the systems work more efficiently.
Different industries are working to pool their efforts and find a cure. However, until countries come together, the efforts might not bear any fruits.
The USA Center for Disease Control and Prevention feels that digital technologies can help combat COVID-19.
According to the CDC, there are four technologies that can help fight the virus; the internet of things, big-data analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
CDC, however, notes that these technologies have to be used responsibly. The writer notes that while other technologies will help in the development of vaccines, blockchain is the platform to distribute the developed vaccine.
Chinese hospitals are already using blockchain to distribute medicine. The article notes that the use of blockchain can ensure a timely supply of medications with better tracking.
A few uses of blockchain in the fight against COVID-19 have been highlighted above. However, there are many more cases where blockchain is already finding applications on the frontline of the fight against the virus.
In Atlanta, Georgia, a software development firm, Acoer, launched its Hashlog data visualization engine. This platform is for data analytics about clinical trials and to provide insight into the spread of the virus.
The Dutch government is also using blockchain technology in the fight. This comes with the realization that price gouging is curtailing the fight.
In some parts of the world, it is not easy to find hand sanitizers or other materials used in the fight against the virus. In other parts, health care workers are working without proper personal protection equipment.
The system deployed by the Dutch government seeks to match supply and demand to prevent price gouging amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The UAE Ministry of Community Development, MOCD, is also using blockchain systems to complete requests by citizens and maintain digital identity.
The ministry is no longer accepting paper documents and instead, they are only accepting approved digital documents.
When they receive the documents, the ministry uses blockchain to authenticate the documents. Today, the blockchain system can process up to 2,919 types of documents.
MOCD now offers services through its website, smart applications, and via email and telephone. This way, the public does not visit government offices but they can still access government services.
Another great initiative is the UAE Pass App that allows smartphone-based verification. The user can then e-sign documents. These are not the only projects that the UAE is engaging in.
The country has been bullish on blockchain technology. For instance, the Ministry of Health and Prevention uses blockchain to store healthcare and pharmaceutical data.
The WFP is using blockchain to serve more than 46,000 refugees in Cox’s Bazar. The WFP is doing so through a digital ledger system that helps WFP track the help that comes to the refugees.
The success of blockchain in the fight against COVID-19 will be bolstered by the cooperation between governments and scientists around the world. Blockchain offers a data platform that everyone can trust.
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