Blockchain Part III: The Role of Blockchain Amid COVID-19

May 29, 2020

Previously, we discussed what blockchain is and some of blockchain’s applications. In the wake of COVID-19, blockchain has garnered attention (and some implementation) as a secure technology for asset and data tracking.

Blockchain for COVID-19 Testing

In the US, a blockchain program has been launched for COVID-19 antibody testing. The program allows authentication of test kits from manufacturer to patient, secures patient data, prevents data loss or tampering and allows instant access to results. Blockchain was chosen for the program for the ability to track the quality of the test kits and ensure the integrity and security of the testing data.

A grant has been issued to for developing an anonymous blockchain COVID-19 testing app that would allow healthcare researchers to analyze test results, without access to patient identification information. It is hoped the program can help in developing treatments.

Blockchain for Medical Supplies

IBM created a blockchain network to help hospitals obtain protective equipment when their usual suppliers have run out. The goal of the network is to streamline the process of finding and vetting new suppliers. In the wake of COVID-19 many new suppliers have emerged to help with the demand for protective equipment, and the ability to verify their legitimacy is critical.

Blockchain for Government Operations

The U.S. Congress is considering blockchain among other technologies for remote voting amid COVID-19. Normally, Congress holds hearings, deliberations and voting in person. The challenge is to find a technology that will allow secure online operations.

Some Congress members have also urged the Secretary of the Treasury to consider the use of blockchain to distribute stimulus checks. Some low-income families have yet to receive their checks as a result of not filing an income tax return or not having a bank account. Blockchain would provide the ability to securely track alternative methods of distribution.

Blockchain for Voting

In April, the Utah Republican convention voted on nominees for the primary using a blockchain mobile app. The ease of the process may have been a factor in the turnout being higher than past conventions. In the wake of COVID-19, some states have turned to early voting or voting by mail to keep citizens safe. Election officials continue to debate the security of online voting methods such as blockchain and whether an infrastructure could be feasibly implemented this year for statewide voting, let alone a national election.

Blockchain for the Supply Chain

Forbes released an article on the potential use of blockchain in our supply chain. Our current supply chain has weaknesses. When a break in the supply chain occurs due to COVID-19 or some other disruption, it’s impossible for businesses to know how to get what they need. Some supplies may be unavailable for weeks or months, with suppliers not knowing when normal operations can resume. The high visibility of blockchain would enable suppliers and companies to quickly identify where goods have become stuck. Breaks in the chain could be swiftly rerouted or remedied entirely.

Though blockchain implementation is still in its infancy, it’s clear the technology has advantages that could be useful in tracking assets in the supply chain, medical testing and government operations.