How Can Blockchain Technology Be Deployed in Fighting the CoronaVirus?

The CoronaVirus is a scary pandemic that the entire world is struggling to control. As governments and scientists continue to look for a medical solution to the problem, keeping the world population alive until a solution is found remains a huge challenge. Now, many governments of the world are preparing for one intervention program or another in order to support their citizens, especially the poor among them.

The United States alone has raised over $2 Trillion in order to support her citizens. In the same way, the most populated country in Africa, Nigeria appears to be considering some form of intervention, peradventure things begin to get out of hand. Lagos state, which has the highest number of recorded cases in Nigeria so far has already kicked off a program to distribute aids to citizens.

Social and economic intervention has been praised as a wonderful idea in this period of crisis. However, how to manage the process of distribution and ensuring that aids get to the actual population that need them is already posing some serious headache. Identifying this population and managing the logistics involved is something that is currently giving administrators something to think about.

The Major Challenges in Fighting Covid-19

In all of this, efforts to provide aid and economic intervention is secondary since the root of the matter is finding ways to curtail the spread of the CoronaVirus while the world searches for a cure. This has also come with so many challenges especially in the areas of data management. Knowing the full extent of impact that the pandemic had had so far has been shrouded with a lot of distrust and unclarity. Perhaps, the existing systems may no longer provide the kind of solution that the world desperately needs at this time.

Blockchain has been praised for its ability to enable transparency and manage supply chain logistics. So far, there doesn’t even seem to be anyone discussing the possibility of employing the novel technology in solving the current challenges. This is understandable, since the rate of adoption of the technology is still very low. Perhaps, when this pandemic is over, humankind might consider taking a closer look on how blockchain technology would help to solve the kind of problems that it is facing at the moment.

Lead Partner at Infusion Lawyers and General Secretary of SiBAN, Senator Ihenyen explains to Coinstituency how the ongoing CoronaVirus pandemic has further exposed the problem of distrust amongst central governments. This distrust also extends towards the media, local and global health bodies, and other stakeholders in the global health system. According to him, it has also exposed the lack of innovation in the global health system, especially considering at this age of emerging technologies where one would have expected some of these technologies to be deployed or maximized to efficiently and effectively manage the situation, especially blockchain technology. 

“I see a poor management of Coronavirus data – whether deliberately or otherwise, which has to a considerable extent fueled the spread of the virus,” he says.

Possible Roles for Blockchain in Fighting Covid-19

So while blockchain technology will not provide a cure for Coronavirus, Ihenyen identifies three major areas where the technology can play critical roles to effectively control the spread of the virus. His postulation is based on the fact that blockchain is typically known to be essentially about security, transparency, and immutability through a decentralized ledger. He notes that it could have helped with who has access to what data and how such data are used or managed to benefit others. 

The first area identified by Ihenyen is how cases have been reported across the affected regions. There have been cases of underreporting of the rate of infection and death, says Ihenyen. This is more common with the Chinese government at some point and reflects the lack of data transparency, a problem that is often associated with centralized databases in the hands of centralized authorities.” He notes that With the blockchain, there will be transparency since data is stored and accessible in a decentralized ledger. 

The second observation by Ihenyen is that the CoronaVirus pandemic has exposed the risks of the lack of a global and decentralized healthcare surveillance system. In his opinion, with a blockchain-based surveillance system, local, national, and international health agencies could access CoronaVirus data needed for swift action and countermeasures without undue restrictions by politically interested parties. 

With a decentralized global healthcare surveillance database, every node or participant would have access to real-time data on index cases and subsequent cases without any curious restrictions. An international body such as the World Health Organization (WHO)  should be at the forefront of delivering such surveillance. There can no longer be lip services in sensitive, global health matters like this. 

The Need for a Trusted System

Lastly, Ihenyen notes that there is growing distrust amongst various governments and citizens around the world about possible vaccines and supply of such vaccines including medical equipment. Global trust has gotten that bad in 2020. Medical supplies are highly sensitive materials, and the issue of distrust with this is clearly a supply chain management problem. 

Ihenyen believes that with blockchain we can track and trace medical supplies and logistics. Every supply, from source to destination is recorded.

With Blockchain, both donors and recipients could easily verify supplies on the blockchain. If there are infected or contaminated supplies in the chain, you would be able to confirm. To this effect, as experts work towards a vaccine in the next one year or less, adopting blockchain technology will help us verify vaccines with greater levels of trust, especially at a time when bio-wars are becoming likely. Trust is all we need, Concludes Ihenyen.

 

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