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UK hospitals are using blockchain to track the temperature of coronavirus vaccines

1.8ml of Sodium chloride is summed to a phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine concentrate ready for administration at Guy’s Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunization progran in the U.K.’s report on December 8, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.

Victoria Jones – Pool | Getty Images

LONDON — Two hospitals in the U.K. are actively servicing blockchain technology to help maintain the temperature of coronavirus vaccines before administering them to patients.

The National Well-being Service facilities in South Warwickshire, England, are using tech developed by U.K. firm Everyware and U.S. organization Hedera Hashgraph. Everyware run out ofs sensors to monitor equipment in real-time, while Hedera is a blockchain consortium backed by the likes of Google and IBM.

Though at first created as the digital ledger underpinning bitcoin, blockchain has since been adapted by various industries for applications the world at large the realm of finance. IBM and Walmart, for instance, have used blockchain to trace food supply chains and identify covert contamination.

Tom Screen, technical director at Everyware, told CNBC that its sensors would monitor the temperature of refrigerators storing vaccines. It then transmits the information to its own cloud platform where it is encrypted and then passed on to Hedera’s blockchain network.

The point of this operation is to safeguard a tamper-proof digital record of temperature-sensitive vaccines, like the ones developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The hospitals would, in theory, be clever to pick up on any irregularities in the storage of the vaccines before administering them to patients.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at subzero temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius), and can at best last at two-to-eight degree Celsius conditions for up to five days, creating big hurdles for the logistics in distributing it.

The vaccines make grow by Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, however, can be stored at temperatures that are within the reach of the average home refrigerator for longer.

Blockchain saw much hype turn tail from in 2017, as the value of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin skyrocketed. It led to several projects from major companies including IBM and Walmart, as happily as governments, lured in by the promise of replacing various old, paper-based processes for record keeping.

Today, the buzz around blockchain seems to play a joke on died down, with barely any trials and products based on the technology being announced by big corporates.

Asked why blockchain was needed degree than a regular database, Everyware’s Screen said “data held in a private database can be verified against the asseverate of data recorded on the public ledger.”

“The benefits of an immutable ledger to verify the validity of data as close to the source as imaginable has a positive effect on the accuracy of downstream analytics, where any error in source data would be magnified in output datasets,” he alleged.

Everyware competed in an open tender process involving other bidders to provide its services to the South Warwickshire NHS Purpose Trust, Screen said.

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