A sense of relief is starting to emerge as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be rolled out around the world. Despite the hope, a new challenge remains: distinguishing between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
Various statistics claim that a very small fraction of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated since early March 2021. While this number is still small, some areas, such as Texas, have optimistically begun to remove network requirements in hopes of returning to normal life. However, other states in the United States have begun to take safer measures to ensure a normal life after developing the COVID-19 vaccine.
For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a beta test program for the Excelsior Pass, a blockchain-based solution based on IBM Digital Health Pass. According to the New York State Code, “The Excelsior Pass will confirm a person’s vaccination or recent negative test for COVID-19 through confidential communication” between companies according to New York State guidelines.
Blockchain technology enables the secure exchange of data
Jason Kelly, general manager of IBM Services, told Cointelegraph that New York had designed the app to meet the specific needs of the state. “Changes are being made to meet these requirements. The underlying technology is the same as that of the IBM Digital Health Pass,” Kelly said.
The Excelsior card was originally auditioned while playing the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on February 27. The app was tested again during the New York Rangers match on March 2 at Madison Square Garden. While the results of these pilots have yet to be released to the public, Kelly explained that the Excelsior pass works like a boarding pass:
“People can print a medical record or save it on their smartphones. The QR code is used to inform the building if the passport is valid or invalid. The goal is to enable residents to digitally confirm a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination certificate in a simple, voluntary and safe way.”
Blockchain plays an important role in ensuring the confidentiality of user data when it is transferred to organizations that require a validated health certificate. Eric Pischini, Vice President of Blockchain at IBM Watson Health, previously told Cointelegraph that the Digital Health Pass platform specifically uses the blockchain to establish self-esteem alongside verifiable credentials.
Kelly also mentioned that IBM Digital Health Pass operates on open standards, allowing ease of interoperability with other solutions, as well as access to specifics of the technology used in the application: “IBM has built an open architecture solution so that other countries can join in the effort continues to say , “It can provide the basis for a safe and connected ecosystem that will enable governments, companies and individuals across the country to achieve a safer and more secure transition to a post-pandemic reality.”
Would other regions choose blockchain as a solution?
Kelly stated that the purpose of the Excelsior Pass is to provide New Yorkers with a simple, voluntary and safe way to prove a negative COVID-19 test result or prove vaccination. It is also important to note that the passport allows New Yorkers to voluntarily report their health condition on their own terms, without disclosing the basic personal information used to create the credentials.
As such, a blockchain solution may be the missing link in future COVID-19 vaccination proposals. Notably, the US pharmaceutical company Moderna recently announced plans to partner with IBM to see how new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and hybrid cloud can help support the most effective COVID-19 vaccine management efforts. Our modernist will look at how Digital Health Pass is being used across the United States as a vaccine management solution.
In addition to IBM’s Digital Health Pass, UK asset tracking provider Everyware uses Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger solution to manage vaccine storage and management. The Hedera core team provides verifiable timestamping and ordering events throughout the vaccine supply chain, and allows healthcare professionals to share data with other parties in the supply chain. Additionally, this storage solution uses equipment to monitor vaccine deployment and administration.
Brazil also uses a blockchain-based system to track vaccinated individuals. This solution is known as the National Health Data Network, and is powered by Hyperledger Fabri.