Researchers in India have proposed a new strategy that can expedite the distribution of vaccines in future pandemics as the world continues to battle against COVID-19 and its new variants.
In their new paper published in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics on Aug. 13, Ashwin Verma, from the Nirma University Institute of Technology in Gujarat, India, and colleagues tackled the new vaccine distribution scheme called VaCoChain.
VaCoChain uses blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that use fifth-generation (5G) communication services for timely distribution of vaccines.
The researchers said that the new scheme can be used in administering vaccines at a time when countries worldwide continue to face challenges in their vaccination drive to protect their citizens from the COVID-19 virus. They said that VaCoChain can also be used in future pandemics.
Expediting vaccine distribution
Verma and colleagues said that VaCoChain can speed up the transportation of vaccines, which is crucial for the immediate prevention of further infections.
“The scheme offers 5G-tactile internet (5G-TI)-based services for UAV communication networks (UAVCN) monitored through ground controller stations (GCs). 5G-TI enabled UAVCN supports real-time dense connectivity at ultra-low round-trip time,” the researchers wrote. ”Thus, it can support resilient vaccine distributions in a phased manner at government-designated nodal centers (NCs) with reduced round trip delays from vaccine production warehouses (VPW).”
The researchers said that the process can also minimize human intervention as well as help ensure that the vaccines are in good condition because of shorter trip times. Some vaccines that are currently administered for the COVID pandemic require extremely cold temperature for storage and are viable for only a short period of time.
Blockchain for better vaccination documents
The use of blockchain can improve documentation of vaccinated persons and make records more transparent and easier to track. The process also uses smart contracts, blockchain-based programs that can independently run once predetermined conditions are met.
The researchers said that smart contracts can be used to create priority groups for vaccination, which may be based on age and whether or not they work as healthcare workers.