What is a vaccine passport?
A vaccine passport or an e-pass is a document of proof that an individual has been vaccinated against CVOID-19. However, one might be allowed to travel even if they have tested negative. All these norms are in the initial phase. This proof can be digital or on a piece of official paper. So basically, it is your hall pass to enter a party, school, pub, office, socialize or travel worldwide. This vaccine certificate can typically be in the form of a barcode which ensures the authorities that you have tested negative for COVID or taken a jab.
A concrete list of norms, rules, and regulations for a vaccine passport will be listed soon, in order, to make travel easier. Several airlines, industry giants like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, NGOs, and technology companies are already working on this. At the recently concluded online G20 Summit, several countries agreed to the concept of the vaccine passport. The vaccine passport will contain a lot of crucial data which will help us suppress such the virus in the near future. Or this data will come in handy if we are hit with another pandemic of this sort. However, a lot of them are sceptical about this passport as it withholds are some personal details as well.
Blockchain and vaccine passports
When it comes to sharing data or information privacy, confidentiality, data security and integrity is an important aspect. For people to embrace this concept, they should be assured that their data is secure and well-guarded. Data infringement or breaches is a menace that haunts everyone, especially the healthcare sector. In 2019, this concern has affected over 40 million people in the US. This rate has considerably increased since 2018, where 14 million people were affected by healthcare data breaches.
Along with restoring citizen trust, government officials or parties should also be assured that the vaccine passport contains authentic data. The vaccine passport answers:
- Which authority has provided the individual with the vaccine certificate?
- Credentials of the person who issues it.
- Are the data and credentials authentic?
- Vaccine and batch name.
- Place of vaccination.
One false record can create a catastrophic impact. For instance, suppose if a COVID positive person is carrying a vaccine passport where the records forged. If it goes unnoticed, and the person is allowed to cross the border, this ripple effect can result in several positive cases. Trustworthy ledgers will assure both citizens and authorities! When the risk is high, incorporating blockchain and digital ledger technologies will assure both citizen and government authorities regarding data privacy, transparency, decentralization, and authentication. Nonetheless, this technology comes with a few concerns.
How will it work?
Courtesy of blockchain, the way the patient’s data is shared across the entities in the value chain has changed. It eliminates the third party and middleman, further reducing the risk of data theft and other frauds. These days most of us use a smartphone. Only registered and verified vaccination centres should be authorized to feed the data. Information such as vaccine data, delivery data, vaccination date, and location are critical.
This information should be stored against the person’s passport ID or other security ID. Against which a QR code should be generated. Securing the data on a QR code ensures safety and privacy. This data should be accessed through a cryptography mechanism, that is through, encryption and decryption, digital signature, and verification. Overall, through blockchain this process becomes secure. So, essentially, these steps should be followed while creating a new record.
- The transaction of feeding the information against the person’s ID is established.
- Now, this transaction is coded into a block and is then added to the network.
- The distributed member, say for instance any government or verified officials, present in the network will compare the fed record for integrity and validation.
- Only when all the distributed members are sure of the data, the block will be accepted.
- The block is added to the blockchain.
- The authentic transaction is approved and can be further used by officials to verify the person’s vaccine record while traveling overseas or entering the office, college, or schools, or while entering the café or restaurants.
Let us understand this through an individual’s perceptive:
- The individual visits a vaccine centre for the vaccine.
- The healthcare official stores the information on the e-pass. A chain of authentic information is added to block against the person’s name.
- This information is synced with the person’s passport ID or any other official ID.
- Only after the person has taken the jab or tested negative for COVID can use this e-pass to travel or socialize.
- Officials scan the pass to trace the data for authentication.
Benefits of using blockchain for creating a vaccine passport
There are several positives of using this concept. To access data of such intensity, using blockchain to facilitate communication for APIs ensures secure transaction, legitimacy, and the ability to prove that previous transaction did happen. More than anything, accessing the digital vaccine passport requires permission from several network members, which makes it legitimate and secure. Citizen’s data is shared upon their consent which ensures faith and trust.
- Increases efficiency
Compared to this system, any traditional process that includes paperwork is prone to human error. By eliminating the third party, this process will be fast. The record-keeping process is less tedious and without clutter, as it is performed using a single digital ledger.
- Improves traceability
Vaccine passports can use blockchain to trace and contact the people who are at risk of getting infected due to contact with an infected person. This tracing system is highly confidential and can be taken into action without revealing much of the patient’s information. Further, using blockchain can also help in a complex supply chain system. In essence, it helps in reducing the number of potential cases and smoothens the process.
- Provides transparency
As blockchain is a type of a distributed ledger, the record can be accessed by all the network participants. Only through mutual agreement, the record is added to the chain. This means, all the records of the citizen are added upon verification implying that only authentic data is available. And if someone wishes to change the record, for instance, to add a false vaccine report, is highly impossible as it requires the consent of all the participants.
There is hope!
The application of blockchain comes as a relief and with some usual concerns as well. But considering the current situation, the positives are way higher, giving up us the hope that things will be back to normal. Ideally, for this to work, globally there should be identical norms. When the government and citizens join hands with technology, everything seems achievable.
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