IBM Bets on Blockchain for Efficient COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

IBM Bets on Blockchain for Efficient COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

by January 5, 2021
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With COVID-19 vaccines quickly being rolled out, attention is now turning to the challenges of distributing billions of doses worldwide. For IBM, blockchain can play an essential role in that and help verify and track vaccines, certify that patients have had the vaccine, and keep track of which patients received which vaccine.

The potential of blockchain in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines relates to the technology’s ability to make supply chain management more transparent and efficient.

Because blockchain allows multiple parties to create and share a transparent source of truth that can be mutually agreed upon, it provides a very powerful infrastructure for supply chain management platforms. And since it is immutable, blockchain drives a higher level of accountability by each participant that writes new data.


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COVID vaccine supply chain, Source- Hexa Foundation

COVID vaccine supply chain, Source: Hexa Foundation

Recognizing the potential of blockchain in these critical times, IBM has developed a number of solutions that leverage blockchain but also other cutting-edge technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, to hasten vaccine distribution, strengthen public trust in authenticity and fight potential counterfeits.

IBM’s Vaccine Accountability Network, for example, is designed to strengthen trust and accountability at each point of the vaccine supply chain. Powered by IBM Blockchain, the network allows companies and organizations to trace and authenticate the batch and lot number level of vaccines, temperature and handling history, enabling them to ensure the end-to end safety and verifiability of vaccines across long and complex networks.

In addition to provenance verification and supply chain management capabilities, IBM has also developed the Digital Health Pass, a solution that uses blockchain and AI to support policies and help organizations verify health credentials for employees, customers and visitors entering their site based on specific criteria.

The IBM Digital Health Pass is currently being integrated with Salesforce’s Work.com, a platform launched in May that provides technology tools and resources for businesses to reopen for work safely. Work.com features tools for employee wellness assessments, shift management, contract tracing and emergency response management, and will soon allow individuals to prove they’ve been vaccinated and can safely travel or return to work.

IBM isn’t the only organization that’s seeing the potential of blockchain to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The World Health Organization recently partnered with Estonia to create digital vaccination certificates based on blockchain technology.

Cybersecurity firm Guardtime, which was founded in Estonia but which is now headquartered in Switzerland, will lead the 12-week pilot and enroll countries to test how the solution can be scaled globally.

Besides IBM, another tech provider that recently launched vaccine management solutions is Microsoft. The tech giant is currently working with a range of partners including Accenture, Avanade, EY, and Mazik Global to deploy vaccine management solutions that enable registration capabilities for patients and providers, phased scheduling for vaccinations, streamlined reporting, and management dashboarding with analytics and forecasting.

 

Featured image credit: Edited from Unsplash

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