As the world continues to fight COVID-19 and its new variants, researchers in India have proposed a new strategy that could speed up the distribution of vaccines in future pandemics.
Ashwin Verma of the Nirma University Institute of Technology in Gujarat, India, and colleagues addressed the new vaccine distribution scheme known as VaCoChain in their new paper published on August 13 in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
VaCoChain employs blockchain technology, which underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that use fifth-generation (5G) communication services for vaccine distribution.
According to the researchers, the new scheme can be used to administer vaccines at a time when countries around the world are still facing challenges in their vaccination drive to protect their citizens from the COVID-19 virus. VaCoChain, they claim, can also be used in future pandemics.
Accelerating vaccine distribution
According to Verma and colleagues, VaCoChain can accelerate vaccine transportation, which is critical for the immediate prevention of further infections.
“The scheme provides 5G-tactile internet (5G-TI)-based services for UAV communication networks (UAVCN) that are monitored by ground controller stations (GCs). The researchers wrote, “5G-TI enabled UAVCN supports real-time dense connectivity with ultra-low round-trip time.” “As a result, 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 (VPWs”).
According to the researchers, the process can also reduce human intervention while also ensuring that the vaccines are in good condition due to shorter travel times. Some of the vaccines currently being used to combat the COVID pandemic require extremely cold temperatures for storage and are only viable for a short period of time.
Blockchain for improved vaccination documentation
The use of blockchain technology can improve vaccination documentation and make records more transparent and easier to track. The process also makes use of smart contracts, which are blockchain-based programs that can run independently once certain conditions are met.
According to the researchers, smart contracts can be used to create vaccination priority groups based on age and whether or not they work as healthcare workers.