The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) is felt by all businesses, communities, and individuals around the world. More than 2.1 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, and more than 180,000 people have died from the disease. It has changed our way of working, playing, socializing, and learning: schools are closing down, sporting events are canceled, companies closing down, people are working from home, national lockdown, and the impact list goes on.
COVID-19 is a major global threat to public health and has sparked shock waves across medical systems, the payment sector, supply chain networks, and other key social aspects of society. The recent pandemic highlights the need for an organized response from different countries, companies, and charities. But how can these grants and donations be managed, delivered, and channeled more transparently and efficiently?
Countries around the world are deploying technologies to help resolve some of the major challenges associated with COVID-19. The epidemic outbreak has taken blockchain technology into the limelight as it helps fight the day-to-day battle against COVID-19. The word blockchain is most frequently linked to Bitcoin, but as some people misunderstand, blockchain is much more than bitcoin, and not fundamentally linked to the latter.
In the simplest of words, a blockchain is a time-stamped series of permanent data records that is maintained by a network of computers not owned by any single entity. Any transaction that goes into the activity record is enclosed in a block and connected together to form a chain in sequential order, giving itself the term blockchain. Its main characteristics are the immutability, traceability, decentralization, transparency, and veracity of its data.
Several businesses like Traxalt, a digital financial institution, the European Union, multinationals like IBM, law firms, real estate, and music agencies are using blockchain to improve their daily activities.
But what are the real advantages of this technology and how can it help us during this time? First, we must define it as a decentralized registry, characterized by its veracity and reliability without the need of a trusted third party to manage or monitor its data. Blockchain is immutable and transparent, which implies that the data contained within cannot be modified and is completely traceable and reliable. Blockchain technology also removes intermediaries, prevents data loss and alteration, and ensures traceability. This can play a significant role in guaranteeing that information on the epidemic is open and transparent and that epidemic materials are traceable.
Syren Johnstone, executive director of the University of Hong Kong, through a letter published by the University of Oxford, highlights the multiple uses of blockchain technology and its benefits. He calls all technology companies to get down to work and find solutions to the global health crisis. Currently, numerous blockchain networks are working to alleviate the effects of the crisis generated by the pandemic of COVID-19.
On the one hand, the need to channel all donations and track them makes blockchain the ideal platform during this time. If people were certain that their donations were reaching the right organizations and had a way to track and observe what they are being used for, it would significantly increase the number of donations. This practice was already used for the first time in 2018 to help flood victims in Eastern Uganda and more recently to support Australian fires, with very good results. In order to avoid criticism and to be completely transparent, the Shanzhong and Hyperchain blockchain network was created in China to manage all their grants and donations.
The second application of blockchain that helps governments fight against COVID-19, is its use to keep track of the delivery of medical supplies, such as masks, respirators, or protective equipment, as well as to prevent counterfeiting.
It is a reality that high demand and low supply cause unfair situations, deception, and a great lack of control throughout the supply chain. Hanzhong and Hyperchain blockchain, are also used to track the delivery of medical equipment. Another use has to do with the data recording.
Blockchain technology is also being used to keep the truthful, unimpeachable, and transparent record of the epidemic’s data. Examples of this could be the number of infected people, deaths, virus mutations, etc. This data provides documentation to understand the behavior of the virus and its progress.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also developed a blockchain network for the digital authentication of official certificates and other documents, thus eliminating the need for citizens to leave their homes to carry out errands and other procedures.
It seems evident that everyone should be using all the tools at our disposal to face the COVID-19 pandemic. For this it is necessary to adopt the new technological advances including blockchain technology. The world is in this together and together we will defeat the current health crisis.