The novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, have upended the world, taking an incalculable emotional toll and severely impacting the global economy. As people from all over the world unite to fight the spread of the pandemic, blockchain technology offers a number of ways to better manage the impact of the pandemic.
1. Data Integrity Verification
When working with vast swaths of data from innumerable labs across the globe, it can be difficult to track and manage data as well as determine the veracity of the information, especially when researchers are moving as fast as they can to find solutions.
IBM, Oracle, and the World Health Organization (WHO) have banded together to form a blockchain consortium that will utilize MiPasa, a hyperledger-based platform that will enable data tracking and analysis. IBM Blockchain CTO Gary Singh explained in a statement that his organization didn’t seek out a use for blockchain. Rather, they identified what had to be done and blockchain technology simply presented the best way to do it.
“It’s not that we were trying to force blockchain into this solution,” he said, “but we thought we need to replicate data, we need to have trusted sources, we need to make sure it can’t be tampered with.”
Another application utilizing blockchain to assist with coronavirus-related data is HashLog, a blockchain-based data collection and visualization tool that processes and shares public data surrounding the spread of the virus.
2. Processing Insurance Claims
Xiang Hu Bao, a financial aid platform with 104 million users, is using blockchain technology to manage coronavirus-related financial and insurance claims. The technology helps to speed up the rate at which claims are processed, while maintaining a detailed, auditable record of each claim.
3. Medical Supply Chain
As medical organizations around the world face a dangerous shortage of much-needed supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, blockchain technology can also be used in the medical supply chain to ensure product quality and trust in suppliers. According to Forbes, blockchain is helping the medical supply chain in a number of ways, including:
- Verification of product requirements that vary from country to country
- Verifying supplier sources
- Tracking payments
- Tracking transportation of supplies
- Customs certification
4. Donation Tracking
As concerned citizens around the world contribute donations to help fight the disease, from funding research to acquiring supplies and helping small businesses, blockchain offers a secure way to log those transactions, creating transparency and trust that payments will be directed to the intended recipients.
5. Cross-Border Payments
Making payments across national borders was once a slow and costly process. However, in the midst of a global crisis, being able to quickly transfer money between countries is critical. Blockchain enables near-instant cross-border payments with fee structures that are lower than traditional wire transfers. This helps to speed and facilitate trade at a time when the global economy is stalling.
6. Medical Research
Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies that require mining have attracted businesses that have built their wealth on utilizing massive computing power to solve complex mathematical computations. Now, some of these businesses, such as BitcoinBros, are redirecting their computing power to assist with coronavirus research. One way they’re doing this is by offering computing power to organizations like Folding@Home, which simulates protein structures – a medical research process that can lead to more accurate treatment solutions.
7. Distance Learning
With universities and schools closed all over the world due to physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, students are being forced to take part in distance learning. Odem, an education and employment marketplace, is offering their blockchain tools for free to institutions during the pandemic. Odem’s credentialing software allows educators to provide students with digital certificates of completion that will integrate with traditional academic tracking after social distancing restrictions are lifted.
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