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China’s CDC proposes a blockchain and 5G-based solution to global vaccine tracking

China's CDC proposes a blockchain and 5G-based solution to global vaccine tracking

In light of the increased number of COVID-19 cases and global vaccine coverage, mandatory “vaccination passports” for international travel may be imposed as the global economy looks to recover.

Notably, interim guidelines for the development of a smart vaccination certificate (SVCs) were given by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2021, as well as the concept of digital vaccination certificates (DVCs).

Given that SVCs were designed for COVID-19 vaccines, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) is seeking a technological approach for the implementation of blockchain, the underlying technology of Bitcoin, that may be used in additional vaccines in the future, according to a report by the CCDC published on February 11.

The Chinese Center said: 

“Following the guidance, in this work, we propose a technical route for the application of blockchain, the underlying technology of Bitcoin, in trusted DVCs.”

Blockchain-based vaccination data transmission. Source: Weekly.ChinaCDC

Blockchain has “great potential” for vaccine tracking

According to the CCDC, blockchain technology has “great potential” for use in vaccination tracking since decentralizing immunization program information systems using the technology improves the protection of vaccine safety and vaccination data as well as monitoring and controlling the whole vaccine distribution process, they said:

“Blockchain has great potential for application in vaccine tracking. Making full use of blockchain technology allows decentralization of immunization program information systems, better protection of vaccine safety and vaccination data, and tracking/managing the whole process of a vaccine deployment. 

The CCDC added:

“The combination of blockchain, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence in DVC systems provides the technical means to promote the recovery of the global economy and to facilitate the cross-border movement of people.”

Thus, as part of his plan to promote the revival of the global economy and the ease of cross-border travel, Wang Yi State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China offered what he believed to be a possible “Chinese answer.” He hoped that the international travel health certificate and vaccination passport could be mutually validated.

How the application would work

Worth mentioning processing speed and throughput are two variables restricting the performance of blockchain since collaborative vaccination information verification needs real-time data transfer. 

For frequent out-block actions of on-chain data, the 5G network mobile process calculi separate a transaction into issue sets, and each node handles just one tiny fragment transaction pertinent to its requirements. Over time, little pieces are combined to form bigger fragments and, ultimately, a full transaction.

The authors Zixiong Zhao and Jiaqi Ma also noted that DVCs might be used in a wide number of applications when they are combined with blockchain technology; however, cybersecurity remains an issue.

“In summary, combining blockchain with DVCs has great potential for a range of applications, but defense against malicious cyberattack is a key concern,” they said.

Countries “should be encouraged” to adopt blockchain

Finally, globally trustworthy consortium blockchain procedures, unified encryption methods, and smart contracts to add DVCs to blockchain for certification, as well as mutual consensus, are all things the CCDC highlights should be pushed by the World Health Organization.

Ultimately, they believe that countries should be encouraged to embrace international open-source blockchain and networking technology to meet global application standards.

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