Telangana to combat black marketing of COVID-19 vaccine via blockchain

IT department ropes in T-Hub startup StaTwig for blockchain solution, which will track every dose of vaccine during its movement from manufacturer to consumer.
For representational purposes (Photo | AP)
For representational purposes (Photo | AP)

HYDERABAD: As four of the six companies that are working on Covid-19 vaccines are based out of Hyderabad, the state government is planning to prevent possible attempts at black marketing or hoarding of vaccines by using blockchain technology.

The IT Department has roped in T-Hub startup StaTwig which, while working earlier with UNICEF (the largest distributor of vaccines in the world), developed their blockchain solution, Vaccine Ledger, to secure irregularities from the supply side.

The tried-and-tested solution, Vaccine Ledger, tracks every single dose of a vaccine during its movement from the manufacturer to the consumer.

It collects important data which shows how the vaccine is changing hands, how it is being stored and so on. 

As of now, while the vaccines get developed, StaTwig will take up a pilot to track the supply of Covid-19 medicines, such as Remdesivir, in Nalgonda, said Siddhartha Chakravarthy, founder of StaTwig.

They have secured all approvals necessary for the pilot and will soon go live, he added. 

Explaining how the solution works on the ground, Chakravarthy said, “Each vaccine dose has a serial number, which will work as a digital ID for that particular dose of vaccine. The label of the vaccine will also have a QR code, which will be scanned at various supply points. Through these scans, which are available both on mobile and web, we will know how the vaccine is changing hands.”

All these transactions at various supply points will be stored in blockchain, and hence will be tamper-proof. This will also ensure that the data is decentralised and there will be more transparency in terms of accessing the data for various stakeholders in the supply chain. 

But, how does the solution detect counterfeit drugs? Chakravarthy said, “Medicines are usually ‘black-marketed’ when a product is being returned.

"The reverse supply chain is sometimes not that straightforward. Lots of things can go wrong. They may get stolen or sold in a different away. With our solution, even a doctor or nurse administering the product in question can scan the QR code and check whether it is a real product brought through proper channels.”

The development of a Covid-19 vaccine will spark the biggest supply chain challenge the country, and the world, has ever faced. In normal times, experts say, it would have taken 5-10 years to distribute such a product to all Indian citizens. However, now, it may have to be done within a year, making it a challenge for various governments, industries and other stakeholders. 

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The New Indian Express