The first wave of COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out globally, with an estimated 65 million doses already administered according to Bloomberg. It’s a sign of relief for many the world over, but some of the vaccines require very careful handling and storage to be viable.
The first vaccine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, must be kept at a temperature between -80°C and -60°C in cold storage, and between 2°C and 8°C for up to five days in a refrigerator before being administered. Left outside of those temperature windows, any doses must be discarded.
Last week, news broke that the UK’s South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust had tapped software company Everyware and distributed ledger technology firm Hedera Hashgraph to track the temperatures of the Pfizer vaccine throughout the transportation and storage process. Thanks to Internet-connected thermometers in the refrigerators, temperatures are automatically recorded to Hedera’s ledger.
Hedera Hashgraph co-founder and CEO Mance Harmon appeared on today’s episode of The Decrypt Daily podcast to describe the process and the benefits of using his firm’s blockchain-like distributed ledger technology.
“Everyware is monitoring the temperature of the vaccine, both in the data centers and at the hospitals. And that information flows through our system, and becomes tamper-proof information that people then can depend on in the future, to know exactly what the state of the vaccine was, when it happened,” said Harmon.
“There is no opportunity for it to be changed or tampered with. And then that information can be used for analytics by anyone in the industry that wants to know what was going on with the vaccine.”
Harmon cited other examples of companies using Hedera Hashgraph to track vaccines and pharmaceuticals. He also spoke to the idea of a so-called “slippery slope,” that tracking and tracing could lead to privacy concerns down the line.
“The customers that are using the platform today obviously are doing that with the very best of intentions,” he said, but noted that developing ethical policies and governance around such technology is “something that we as a society are going to have to grapple with in the years to come.”
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