How Blockchain can be the critical element for effective COVID-19 vaccine distribution


Two companies namely Pfizer and Moderna have recently announced COVID-19 Vaccines with an efficiency rate of more than 90%. While the effectiveness and the short span of development of the vaccine are highly applaudable, one of the biggest challenges is still ahead- the distribution of the vaccine across the globe. 

The mission of the century that lies ahead implies a unique challenge as the two vaccines have key differences when it comes to the conditions in which they must be stored. For long-term freezing, Moderna’s vaccine requires a temperature of minus 20 Celsius degree but can be stored for up to one month in a regular refrigerator (2-8 Celsius). On the other hand, Pfizer’s vaccine requires a much colder environment (i.e. minus 70 Celsius degrees) and can keep only up to five days in regular refrigeration. 

Moreover, coordinating the two-doses of vaccines at a large scale while maintaining the set time window and ensuring they are from the same manufacturer will also pose a major challenge. 

The different specifications make it critical to maintain proper storage as a minimal variation or slip could make a difference in life or death. 

But, How can one monitor and verify proper storage and distribution of the vaccine?  

The answer to maintaining and monitoring the supply chain of the much-awaited vaccines lies in the heart of technology. Experts believe that Blockchain, a technology that makes the data easy to verify and difficult to falsify will provide efficiency and trust while storing and distributing the vaccine. 

Blockchain allows multiple parties to manage and share a decentralised database, which will allow them to create and share a transparent source of truth within the supply chain. 

A Blockchain is not owned by anyone, but rather provides a generic standardised protocol that all participants along the supply chain can join and share relevant data in. Besides, it is immutable, therefore existing information cannot be deleted, only appended, which consequently drives a higher level of accountability by each participant that writes new data.

The digital trust provided by the technology proves it to be the perfect infrastructure for supply chain management. 

Furthermore, the platform provides the full track of every item in near real-time, including additional information, as required making it the most reliable and efficient. 

Also, the minimal cost of investment required to join a blockchain would serve as an advantage. When joining a blockchain, the only investment needed is having software that is capable of working with blockchain. If you’re going beyond just joining blockchain and want to be part of blockchain at the authentication point, then you would need to invest in the infrastructure to be part of that blockchain.

This will help in getting all the stakeholders on board and thereby maintaining transparency. 

The immutability and transparency provided by Blockchain will help cater to some of the most critical challenges such as maintaining proper storage temperature, accountability, accuracy in tracking items, fighting potential counterfeits, complications in stock management, fighting the two-doses challenge, etc.   

Blockchain ensures proper functioning of supply chain 

With Blockchain monitoring, every vaccine, each link of the supply chain will be in the sink and the entire process could run smoothly and intervened if required to maintain proper functioning in the supply chain. 

● Manufacturers could track all aspects of the supply chain, from packaging and cold-chain transit to distribution strategies and storage 

● Distributors would provide a more efficient delivery tracking platform, including storage requirements verifications, and would be the first to know and notify if things go wrong

● Hospitals and clinics could better manage their stocks, mitigating supply, and demand constraints. Furthermore, they would get guarantees concerning vaccine authenticity and proper storage conditions

● Individuals would have an identical guarantee for the specific vaccine they receive. 

Experts believe that all the blockchain systems will work seamlessly together and help streamline the distribution of the much-awaited vaccine. 

Although it is still not very clear as to how long it will take until the vaccines are available for every last one of us, it is almost certain that their supply chain must be geared up and closely monitored to eliminate any glitch in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine which the entire world needs desperately. Also, Blockchain-based supply chain will help keep a close eye and engender trust in everyone “from manufacturers to doctors and the recipients of the vaccine” by providing proof of proper storage and efficient distribution. 

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