Is There a Role for Blockchain in Vaccine Distribution?
The vaccine is one more aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic that proves to be harder to handle than expected. Not only does it have to be produced in massive quantities and distributed worldwide as soon as possible, but it also presents extremely challenging storage issues.
Two pharma companies are close to the finish line right now, Moderna and Pfizer. Both vaccines show promising results in test trials and are close to being approved. The problem is both require difficult storing conditions. Moderna’s vaccine needs to be held at minus 20 Celsius degrees and cannot be kept in a normal refrigerator longer than a month. With Pfizer’s immunization serum, things are even more complicated; it has to be stored at minus 70 Celsius degrees and only lasts up to five days in a standard refrigerator.
These conditions alone make this a tough challenge. If we also consider the pandemic has already affected the medical supply chains to a point where things are extremely hard to control, the situation is critical.
How Can Blockchain Technology Help?
Blockchain can be the solution because it can help remove many of the usual issues traditional medical supply chains face. Pharmaceutical companies can turn to it to organize and monitor their supply chains. This step would bring a higher level of transparency and improved communication, which is essential in this situation.
Blockchain can bring the certainty that the vaccines were adequately stored and haven’t been compromised in any way during transportation. By providing a decentralized database, the information will be transparent and available to many parties.
Two aspects make blockchain the ideal infrastructure to manage the pharma supply chain right now. First, it’s independent, not owned by a particular entity; the data is mutually shared among supply chain participants. Secondly, its immutability means one cannot delete the already existing data; they can only append it, increasing every user’s responsibility.
On top of that, access to the information is easier to set and control using blockchain, as some participants will only be granted read-only access. The ultimate goal and the main advantage of using this technology in overseeing the vaccine supplies and distribution are that every item can be fully tracked, almost in real-time.
Closely tracking the vaccines all the way will be essential for all parties involved. The manufacturer could easily follow the products; the distributor can make sure the storage requirements are respected and immediately known if something went wrong. Also, hospital stocks could be monitored and updated much easier, and every vaccine would come with the guarantee that it has been properly stored and transported. That means every person receiving a vaccine could rest assured the inoculation serum they got was safe and authentic.
One More Step to Take
Using blockchain to improve supply chains is no new endeavor. Many blockchain companies have already done it successfully. So technically speaking, we are ready. But there is one more vital step to take, getting all the players involved. The truth is to get blockchain working in vaccine distribution, politics are just as important as the technology.
So, we’re not there yet. Still, considering how much blockchain use will increase the overall trust in the vaccination process, the effort will be well worth it. It will also be one more piece of proof of the versatility and utility of blockchain technology and its significant role in the future.