Two hospitals in England are utilising blockchain technology to track and monitor the Covid-19 vaccine process.
Hospitals in Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick are using the distributed ledger tech to track the movement of vaccines and chemotherapy drugs and to monitor fridges storing vaccines.
The process comes with a series of logistical hurdles which pose a significant risk to the speedy distribution of vaccines.
Blockchain technology could allow the NHS to distribute and deliver the vaccines across the country more safely and with less chance of life-threatening mistakes.
There are several different vaccines currently in circulation, each with different storage requirements and temperature controls.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine must be shipped quickly and must be refrigerated to maintain a temperature of 2-8°C. The vaccine can then be stored for up to five days.
However, the Moderna vaccine requires no cold storage, making it easier to deliver but coming with a different set of logistical challenges.
Covid vaccines require special care and attention to ensure that they are stored and transported correctly. This, unfortunately, leaves them vulnerable to hackers and malicious actors.
Commenting on the importance of keeping vaccine data safe, Peter Ferry, Director at SICCAR commented: “Last year the UK gov centralised contact tracing app failed because of privacy concerns. Now, the general public, not just privacy geeks, understand that the decentralised approaches give them the best protection. We all want to stay healthy, but we want a say in how our sensitive info gets retained and used.
“We’re entering an era where individual and community work, travel, and interaction hinge on this health and inoculation status. This requires co-operation between governments, health authorities, industries, transport at scale.
“Shared (distributed) ledgers come into their own in addressing these big challenges – they provide trust between people and organisations. They help us be confident that all this verification is reliable, that we can trust its source, while still retain control and confidentiality over sensitive details.
“As the Covid crisis drives the remaining ‘in person’ and paper-based interactions online, it looks like the broad spectrum of distributed ledger tech is coming of age in making distributed data and credential sharing part of societies’ infrastructure.”
Several times in 2020, vaccine research was targeted by state hackers attempting to steal information on distribution networks and steal research.
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In early December last year, a campaign led by IBM revealed that hackers, believed to be acting on behalf of a nation-state, organised a sophisticated spear-phishing campaign against vaccine ‘cold supply’ networks.
It is believed that hackers were attempting to gather vaccine information and to disrupt the services vital to distribution.
While vaccines were in the development stages around the world, hackers believed to be backed by the Russian state attempted to steal vital Covid-19 data.
The National Cyber Security Centre published revealed the activities of the hacker group, known as ‘APT29’, targeting British, American and Canadian vaccine research and development organisations.