Embracing tech ‘offers paths to pandemic freedom’

Tech experts say governments and health authorities must seize the chance to use blockchain technology for Covid-19 vaccine passports.

Blockchain – an electronic ledger or database – has typically been used to trade crypto currencies. But Lachlan Feeney, CEO of blockchain consultancy Sabres, said the platform could be used together with an app or QR code to deliver transparent and incorruptible Covid-19 vaccine passports.

“Blockchain for a number of reasons would be at least a technology that should be considered,” he said, adding that it would enable proof of vaccination to be standardised and simplified.

“You would want the simplest solution as possible… a QR code… sent to your phone once you get your vaccination.”

The QR code could be link to data including when and where someone was vaccinated and even which brand of jab they received – all stored on a secure blockchain ledger, Mr Feeney said.

‘This would be a wonderful test case as a globally secured way of sharing health data’
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Karen Cohen
Blockchain Australia

‘What you really want is… standardisation and simple user interface so that whoever needs to check the certifications can do so in a standardised and seamless way,’ he said.

VetDB chief and Steve Joslyn has already developed a blockchain-based passport for animal vaccines to tackle Hendra viruus – which can read from bats to hoses to humans – and a prototype for a Covid-19 vaccine certificate.

“We adopted our system and made a proof of concept that uses smart chips in ID cards or passports,” Dr Joslyn said.

“We leveraged our existing technology that basically records all aspects of a vaccination event, including the (vaccine) vile, the GPS location, image, the administrator, and proof of attendance for the patient there.

“We basically timestamp all of that data with a blockchain method, which essentially proves that it happened at that time and at that place.”

All of the data could be stored on a passport with a smart chip, Mr Josyln said. Use of blockchain in healthcare was “Inevitable” but governments were still “warming up” to its potential, he said.

Emerging Tech Talent director and Blockchain Australia deputy chair Karen Cohen said no technology was 100 per cent hack proof, but blockchain was safe because data could not be altered.

“The idea of blockchain is that it is fast, secure and scalable. It’s a verified record of the vaccine and I can share that record if I want.” Ms Cohen said.

“This would be a really wonderful test case as a globally secured way of sharing health data. It is almost a race for digital identification.”

Angelica Snowden
Journalist / reporter at The Australian.

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