5 Unexpected Ways Blockchain is Used to Respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
The Coronavirus disease 2019, now named as (COVID-19) has so far infected 75 204 people, affecting their respiratory systems, and caused deaths to 2006 people, according to World Health Organisation’s situation report dated 20th February 2020.
All around the world, suspected cases are being quarantined or told to stay at home if they have travelled to China at all. Healthcare systems, and its professionals are strained not just by the disease but by the communities who are in fear of the disease and react irrationally, sometimes unkindly to these healthcare professionals.
In such gloomy times, it’s best to focus on what one can do to alleviate the situation, and to help make it easier for the lives of those affected the most.
This is where these remarkable organisations and technologies companies have come in with solutions using blockchain technology. Although blockchain cannot heal, it can help assess the threat.
Regarding what the blockchain is, you might have heard this example: In a village, Zhang San lent Li four hundred dollars, so he went to the village radio station and broadcast the message to the whole village. After each villager heard the information, they checked the authenticity of the information in their own way, and then recorded on their account books that Zhang San lent Li to one hundred dollars. Since all the villagers have recorded this information, there will be no disputes and no possibility of making false accounts with this loan of Zhang San and Li Si afterwards.
Through this example, we can summarize the core technical characteristics of the blockchain- it occurs single point of initiation, network-wide broadcasting, cross-checking, and joint accounting. Popularly speaking, the blockchain has three characteristics: distributed, difficult to tamper with, and traceable.
Taking into account these characteristics, there are several applications or use-cases of blockchain that when applied, strengthens systems.
Here’s how blockchain has helped in countries’ response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
1. Issuing certificates to graduates
Even when there’s an infectious epidemic spreading around, life still has to go on. To prevent the probability of infections spreading, South Korea’s Pohang University of Science & Technology decided not to have a physical graduation ceremony for its graduates. But its students would still need the certificates to apply for jobs.
To ensure that users are able to receive their certificates securely, the university is issuing blockchain-stored diplomas to its new graduates. The diplomas are created by blockchain-based certification service “broof”, by Korean firm ICONLOOP. “Broof” allows users to issue, manage, and view online certificates via ICONLOOP’s public blockchain network. Compared to issuing diplomas merely by email or online transmission, these blockchain-based certificates are not subject to forgery or alteration as recipients can access their information through an encrypted path.
Happy graduation with the coolest certificates around guys!
2. Providing verified daily tracking and visualisations of the COVID-19 outbreak for researchers, scientists and journalists.
Acoer’s visualization tool, the ‘Coronavirus Tracker’ is helping epidemiologists get data verified using its distributed public ledger, Hedera Hashgraph.
Epidemiologists, need high-quality data to model viruses, which can provide governments with recommendations about how to contain the virus. However, the data is hard to come by. Additionally — and if its integrity can’t be verified, it’s of no use to epidemiologists.
Acoer, a company based in Georgia, U.S.A., is helping its healthcare and life sciences clients to easily track and visualize the Coronavirus outbreak with its HashLog data visualization engine. It’s built to interact in real-time, with Hedera Hashgraph, the enterprise-grade distributed public ledger, the Coronavirus HashLog dashboard allows researchers, scientists, and journalists to easily understand the spread of the virus.
The ‘Coronavirus Tracker’ takes public data made available through different authoritive sources (CDC, WHO, and Google Trends), and displays in aggregate for a global perspective. It allows for simple and visual filtering, and dynamic changes based on values selected. Users can also download selected data as images or CSV files for later analysis.
Here’s what it can show, updated on a daily basis: Aggregate data filtered down to individual countries showing total cases, number of reported deaths, number of reported recoveries, and death and recovery ration per 100 people.
When the CEO of Acoer was asked why he decided to use the Hedera Hashgraph blockchain in an interview with Digital Asset Live, he answered that Acoer is a “big believer in public distributed ledger technology (DLT), or blockchain, as a means of data interaction and trustworthy data provenance.” On top of that Acoer chose Hedera due to its “near real-time nature of the consensus algorithm (ABFT) and its ability to scale to more than 10,000 transactions per second.”
3. Speeding up insurance claims
Insurance service providers are relying on blockchain technology to fast track claims payouts, speed up settlements and reduce fraud.
In Hong Kong, which has reported 26 cases including one death, Blue Cross (Asia-Pacific) Insurance, a unit of Bank of East Asia (BEA) is helping to ease pressure on health care services by shortening time spent on back-end data verification, and other paperwork. This is because its blockchain-backed platform is capable of handling more than 1,000 concurrent transactions in a second without human involvement, reducing the need for face-to-face contact and limiting possible spread of the disease.
In China, the blockchain-backed online mutual aid platform, Xiang Hu Bao, has added flu-like illness to critical conditions it covers, with a maximum one-time payout of 100,00 Yuan, equivalent to USD$ 14,320. What’s interesting is that the platform is not an insurance product, but a collective claims-sharing mechanism built on blockchain technology which offers basic health plans to its 104 million participants, many of whom are from China’s lower tier cities, counties and rural areas. The platform is available on Alipay, which is the predominant mobile payments app in China.
As the nature of claims-sharing is vulnerable to fraud and highly administrative, a blockchain network is the ideal solution to the system as it speeds up the payouts and makes it verified. An Ant Financial spokesman, representing its platform Alipay, told the South China Morning post that Xiang Hu Bao has been able to do this due to the “decentralized, trust-free nature of blockchain technology”. The spokesman shared how the process works: “Claim applicants submit their reporting documents as evidence while investigation firms get immediate access to them on blockchain. All parties involved can see the entire process.”
4. Tracking medical supplies to ensure optimum resource allocation
One of the immediate and urgent issues brought about by the COVID-19 epidemic is the management, allocation, and donation of supplies. The challenge is to achieve point-to-point collaboration with varying stakeholders from the donor to the recipient. This includes warehousing, delivery, and confirmation of supply and demand. Currently integration has not been achieved at each points.
According to Sina Technology, Alipay has launched an online information platform to track epidemic prevention materials, such as masks, gloves, caps and other protective gear. The platform integrates its Ant Blockchain technology and is led by the Health Commission and Committee of Economic and Information Technology of Zhejiang Province.
5. Simplifying the donations process and making it more transparent.
Chinese start-up Hyperchain has partnered with China Xiong’an Group, a fund management company, to launch a blockchain solution to track donations towards ending the COVID-19. The platform is called Shanzong, and started operations on Monday, 10 February. After three days, the platform recorded close to 500 donations. Its key donors include New Sunshine Charity Foundation and Yuego Living Supermarket. The main beneficiaries include Jiayu People’s Hospital, Tongshan People’s Hospital, and Xiantao №1 People’s Hospital of Hubei Province where patients are being treated.
The solution comes at a time when China faces mulitple scandals regarding donations not being allocated for its intended purpose, or reaching deserving beneficiaries. A statement by Hyperchain explained that Shanzong assures the genuineness of donations information by placing it on blockchain which then cannot be manipulated.
In summary, here’s the role of blockchain in helping alleviate the world emergency with Covid-19:
Although blockchain cannot heal, it can definitely assess threats, and ensure transparency. We applaud all the tech companies who are using blockchain to assist with the response to the COVID-19 situation.
Read more articles on the Boogle Blog to learn more about blockchain.