Given the size and scope of the blockchain market, it makes sense that this technology should have been discussed as a potential solution to future pandemics. In fact, the global blockchain space is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2020 to $39.7 billion by 2025, at an impressive CAGR at 67.3%.
While there may be some dispute about how blockchain could be used to combat future viruses and global pandemics, some have also argued that it could also help to shape the ongoing battle against Covid-19.
In this post, we’ll look at the technology behind blockchain, whie asking how this tech could be used to combat viruses and help to keep the public safe.
What is Blockchain Technology?
At its core, blockchain is a distributed ledger technology (DLT), and one that has the underlying potential to eliminate large swathes of manual record-keeping, streamline supply chains and disrupt the entirety of the IT industry.
In addition to its diverse range of large-scale applications, blockchain is completely decentralised and capable of delivering a transparent (and ultimately immutable) ledger.
Recently, blockchain has been mentioned as a tool that could be used to assist with managing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, particularly after its initial application in various parts of the healthcare system.
In fact, there are several ways in which blockchain can help in this respect, primarily in terms of preventing and controlling the spread of the disease.
This is one of the biggest concerns as second spikes of the virus appear to be popping up across the globe, while one of the biggest challenges so far has been the outdated nature of the surveillance systems used to track new outbreaks and cases.
This makes such systems inadequate and often hard to access, with China’s current disease surveillance software simply an updated version of an older platform that’s more than five decades old.
This lack of innovation is rampant across the globe, creating a healthcare surveillance system that’s largely unfit for purpose and incapable of dealing with modern populations and the relative freedom of movement between nations.
Can Blockchain Really Help the Fight Against Disease?
Ultimately, these challenges have created a pressing need to build borderless surveillance solutions, with the decentralised nature of blockchain negating any potential geopolitical concerns that could arise from such globalised systems.
Such a system would definitely help to improve access to information and datasets, while enabling surveillance solutions to strike the delicate balance between capturing relevant information and safeguarding the privacy of individuals.
The presence of immutable audit trails and the capacity of blockchain systems to report crucial data and potential hazards in real-time can also curb the spread of infections at the source, particularly at hotspots such as airports and across international borders.
Even on a fundamental level, the use of blockchain could reduce our reliance on physical cash assets that have the potential to transmit infections by hand. This transition has already started, and there’s no doubt that this could be the first of several blockchain-inspired changes in the quest to combat COVID-19.