Blockchain — the system of decentralizing a database and distributing it across an entire network of computers — brought us Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It’s been used to make supply chains more transparent and create secure records that cannot be altered unilaterally.
Now the technology is being used in the COVID-19 immunization program of Britain’s state-owned National Health Service.
The vaccines need to be stored at frigid temperatures to be effective. In the case of the Pfizer shot, the required range is minus 60 to minus 80 Celsius.
“Storing the drugs in the correct way is absolutely critical,” said Tom Screen, technical director of the British technology company Everyware.
The company is using sensors and cloud computing to remotely monitor the temperature of NHS refrigeration units.
“If a fridge does go out of the temperature range, the hospital gets an automated alert,” Screen said, adding that without such notification the hospital could be forced to discard precious vaccine supplies.
Data security is a crucial part of Everyware’s modus operandi, especially when it comes to NHS facilities. The health service suffered a serious cyberattack in 2017 and was subsequently criticized in a parliamentary report for being unprepared for hackers.