Can blockchain help to combat COVID-19? COVID-19 aka coronavirus has spread its wrath among the worldwide health, government, science and business communities.All aspects of societies are trying to contain the virus but the scale and velocity at which the virus is spreading is proving to be difficult to manage. The main reason is regional clustering of the outbreak which has moved far beyond the Chinese mainland and its neighbouring countries. COVID-19 cannot be termed as the first serious epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives and caused tremendous loss to the economy.
The economic consequences might be difficult to calculate, but certain facts have taken the forefront showing the amount of losses organizations and global economy is facing. Companies like Apple 4, Kia Motors have halted their production line. Global commodity markets are crashing with the price of oil falling to as low as $54 per barrel. Looking at the consequences faced by the globe, it is important to identify the use of the recent technologies- this is where Blockchain comes into the big picture.
Blockchain: The Third Era of Currency – can it combat COVID-19?
“There are three eras of currency: commodity based, politically based, and now, math based.”
Many tech companies and startups have recognized this and have started building numerous blockchain solutions aiming to track medical supplies, drug supply chains, citizen advises and even identifying symptoms of infection. Following are the areas where Blockchain can help speed up the global workforce in fighting with the pandemic:
Tracking Medical Material Supply Chains:
Alipay along with the Chinese IT Department has launched a blockchain based platform to help users track the supply of medical supplies such as masks, gloves and other protective gear. This solution is helping China cope with its shortage of facial masks problem. It is also helpful in identifying counterfeit masks entering the supply chain. Around the world, there is steady progress in increasing the connectivity of the healthcare industry with the help of Blockchain technology.
Tracking of Donations:
In the early stages of coronavirus, trust was a major issue. With prospective scandals in place, Blockchain can help donors track their funds and direct them where it is most urgently needed. They are verified once received by the organization. This helps timely utilization of funds and thus effectively treating people infected with the virus.
Verify Insurance Claims for COVID-19:
Xiang Hu Bao is a blockchain-based claim sharing platform by Ant Financial. One of the newest functions that blockchain is capable of is processing coronavirus claims and helping the firm reduce in its monotonous paperwork and documenting delivery to clinics. Also by implementing this, there is the possibility of reducing the risk of infections from face-to-face contact by human involvement.
Tracking the Outbreak Data to combat COVID-19:
There are organizations that use blockchain solutions to easily track and visualize and combat COVID-19. This allows researchers, journalists and common people to understand the flow of the spread of virus. This is possible because of real-time tracking based on public data. Every piece of information shared cannot be manipulated or changed with the implementation of blockchain. Thus, saving from the sharing of false data to the masses.
Facilitating Cross Border Payments:
On of the major challenges that charities, health organizations and governments face during such global disasters is transferring donations and payments cross-border. United Nations World Food Program set one such example by introducing blockchain technology to their projects of distributing aid to worse-affected areas around the globe. This means that MNCs could save tens of millions of dollars which in turn could be allocated to other aid projects which are in dire need of such funds.
In the wake of this global pandemic, blockchain technology can also help in testing passengers. Those who travel from different countries (that have already declared a state of emergency). They can be tested for symptoms of the virus would be another method to receive data for high risk groups. This can help prevent the virus from spreading into potentially safe countries.
Startups in India Fighting COVID-19
The startup has developed a live dashboard to track COVID-19 patients along with their activities. It is working with Haryana and Punjab governments. The start-up from Gurugram also offers administrative dashboards with advanced features like location tracking, geofencing and predictive analytics.
This startup has provided remote tech support for installing air handling units at the COVID-19 field hospitals in Wuhan at the time when the city was locked down. Their technology XCare, was used to remotely monitor and manage air handling units in the Huoshenshan Hospital constructed to specifically cater to infected patients.
India has wholeheartedly welcomed the blockchain technology. To help Indian startups survive this pandemic, founders from leading startups, investors, independent advisors, supporters and mentors have come together to announce the launch of Action COVID-19 Team (ACT) which proposes a grant of Rs 100 crore programme aiming to seed 50 initiatives through these grants to combat the economic fallout of COVID-19 in India.
Limitations of blockchain to combat COVID-19
The only limitation that blockchain technology might ever face to combat COVID-19 by tackling the health crisis. This is the lack of experts and specialists in the field. The talent market has been plagued by a gap between demand and supply of the skillsets required.
Whenever an outbreak occurs, every minute is precious. Quick reaction and sharp acumen become the most important weapons authorities might use to oust the problem. Blockchain promises significant improvement towards medical supply chain management, vaccine verification. It also helps donation tracking and insurance processing for better global community support in fighting viral containments like COVID-19. Blockchain technology surely proves to be a vital addition in the upcoming decade that the world shall see. Blockchain will help to combat COVID-19