UK health service to use blockchain to monitor COVID-19 vaccine storage

Public distributed ledger network Hedera Hashgraph is being used by a United Kingdom-based digital asset tracking provider called Everyware to provide the country’s National Health Service with a system for managing its COVID-19 vaccine storage.

Several of the widely-used COVID-19 vaccines being administered at present require ultra-cold storage conditions in order to remain effective, presenting a significant challenge for public and private health services around the world. 

To ensure that COVID-19 vaccine maintenance can be securely and transparently monitored by participants in the distribution process in the U.K., Everyware will provide several NHS facilities with its asset tracking and monitoring software, using the Hedera Consensus Service as a secure, distributed trust layer. 

The Hedera base layer provides a verifiable timestamp and ordering of events across the vaccine supply chain and allows healthcare facilities to securely share data with other participants involved in the vaccine delivery chain — among them pharmaceutical providers, centralized storage facilities, and transportation companies. Speaking to Cointelegraph, an Everyware representative wrote:

“To date, other participants, e.g. pharmaceutical companies, have been communicated with via existing NHS channels. Onboarding third parties [to the vaccine monitoring system is] as simple as creating accounts for users and groups that have an interest in a particular set of assets. Additionally, using Hedera opens up opportunities for integration via the Hedera Consensus Service as a publish/subscribe broker; plus, deployment of mirror nodes.”

Initially, Everyware is providing the Hedera-based solution to a select group of NHS facilities in the South Warwickshire region, including the Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick hospitals, before a wider rollout in the future. 

The representative said that Everyware has already been working with the NHS trust for “a number of years, starting with monitoring refrigerated and room temperature drugs.” Assets such as blood fridges, freezers and warmers, are all examples of the types of assets that Everyware monitors at public health facilities in the U.K. There are also discussions with NHS trusts to implement the system in the future to reduce drug wastage at various facilities.

In addition to the software and Hedera base network layer, the COVID-19 vaccine storage solution relies on hardware to monitor the assets involved in distribution and administration. The representative told Cointelegraph that the Everyware Platform is built on Amazon Web Services EC2 cloud infrastructure and offers an Internet of Things, or IoT, capability, for clients to integrate with sensors:

“Typically, on site, we would deploy sensors on the individual refrigerators (or cabinets, for room temperature drugs), which send data via a local mesh network to an Everyware Smart Hub. As well as providing local alerts, the Smart Hub is an Internet gateway for devices to connect to the cloud platform.”

Countries like Brazil have already recognized blockchain as a valuable tool for ensuring that vaccine delivery is transparently and efficiently tracked. Alongside vaccine delivery challenges, Hedera’s technology has been used by scientists to understand the spread of infections across populations.

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