A sign of an NHS vaccination centre amid the spread of the coronavirus in Wembley, London. Reuters
Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said on Tuesday, in one of the first such initiatives in the world.
Two hospitals, in central England’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick, are expanding their use of a distributed ledger, an offshoot of blockchain, from tracking vaccines and chemotherapy drugs to monitoring fridges storing COVID-19 vaccines.
The tech will bolster record-keeping and data-sharing across supply chains, said Everyware, which monitors vaccines and other treatments for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), and Texas-based ledger Hedera, owned by firms including Alphabet’s Google and IBM, in a statement.
Logistical hurdles are a significant risk to the speedy distribution of COVID-19 vaccines but have resulted in booming business for companies selling technology for monitoring shipments from factory freezer to shots in the arm.
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s shot, for example, must be shipped and stored at ultra-cold temperatures or on dry ice, and can only last at standard fridge temperatures for up to five days.
Other vaccines, such as Moderna Inc’s, do not need such cold storage and are therefore easier to deliver.
“We can absolutely verify the data that we’ve collected from every single device,” Everyware’s Tom Screen said in an interview. “We make sure that data is accurate at source, and after that point we can verify that it’s never been changed, it’s never been tampered with.”
Firms from finance to commodities have invested millions of dollars to develop blockchain, a digital ledger that allows the secure and real-time recording of data, in the hope of radical cost cuts and efficiency gains.
Results have been mixed, though, with few projects achieving the revolutionary impact heralded by proponents.
Everyware’s Screen said it while it would be possible to monitor the vaccines without blockchain, manual systems would raise the risk of mistakes.
The system will “allow us to demonstrate our commitment to providing safe patient care,” said Steve Clarke, electro-bio medical engineering manager at South Warwickshire NHS in a statement.
News last week that Moderna’s vaccine has been approved in the UK warrants hope, optimism, and a huge sense of relief – but on the other hand, does it? While the US-developed Covid jab was busy becoming the third to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare
Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the virus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California, filling hospitals and threatening livelihoods anew as governments lock down businesses and race
This is fun now. They have no strategy for containing this virus, so one moment they scream that we’ll beat it because we’re British and it’s in our spirit, and we didn’t get to own India by staying in a bubble of six. Then the R number increases to 3 million,
We all have to improvise in these unusual times. That applies to the Peter Mandelson Memorial Dim Sum Supper just as much as to any other venerable institution of the unwritten British constitution. One of the great strengths of the constitution
India reported 161,736 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, hitting the world’s highest daily tally once again, for a total of 13.69 million cases, health ministry data showed.
A military statement said security forces conducted an operation in the Spinwam area of North Waziristan, a tribal region that has served as a sanctuary for local and foreign militants.
"Dubai’s aviation sector has been at the forefront of a global campaign to restore vital international air services with the opening of quarantine-free travel corridors between the UAE and multiple countries around the world, says Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.