TechNet-21 - Forum

  1. Olivia Bessat
  2. Supply chain and logistics
  3. Tuesday, 22 May 2018

I am really interested in the potential benefits that blockchain technology could bring to immunization. There have been many discussions on vaccine packaging and barcoding as I can recall, and I was wondering if blockchain technology was mentioned (or even central now!) during those discussions, and also if some of you would have some stories to share about using this technology at all. 

It seems from several sources, including the World Bank that blockchain technology can provide a cost-effectiev solution to many challenges encountered by government-led supply chains, such as maintaining vaccine quality throughout the supply chain or ensuring vaccine availability at service delivery points.

In addition to that, by allowing to track vaccines from lab to patient, particularly where a network of various players in different geographies are involved, blockchain technology would then aid to prevent fraudulent products entering the supply chain and bring down the risk that ineffective counterfeited products represent for public health. That could be quite an interesting opportunity, especially since the WHO estimated that countries are spending about $30bn on counterfeit drugs, that cases of counterfeited yellow fever and MenA vaccines were reported and that WHO thinks most cases of fake medicines re likely to be unreported (see this article). 

I'd love to hear from immunization on what their thoughts, hopes and possibly criticisms would be!

Thanks all and have a great day!

Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Hi Olivia,

What a timely discussion! This is exactly what my group, Denominator, is exploring this summer as a Gates Grand Challenge Explorations awardee - incorporating blockchain into vaccine supply chain logistics platforms in Gavi-supported and other countries. We do believe there is a rationale for testing the tech in immunization supply chains, especially given the stronger consolidation of the vaccine supply chain network compared to more fragmented drug/medical product supply chains.

We explored this together with industry reps and blockchain platform providers at a Gates-led workshop in March, "Blockchain for Supply Chain for Good," and came away in agreement that the vaccine supply chain is a strong candidate environment for generating an evidence base for whether and how to use blockchain in developing/low-resource contexts.

It may well be that other solutions are just as good at preserving trust and mitigating fraud/waste - but to our knowledge, nobody has performed an explicit real-world evaluation to determine that. It also may be that a complementary suite of technologies - blockchain, AI, and internet-enabled device monitors - could be a viable solution, but again, no conclusive evidence has been generated testing this in immunization (or any other) supply chains to our knowledge. So we're hoping to address that knowledge gap in the coming months.

We'll be giving a talk on our pilot at Fintech Fusion in Carouge tonight, for those in Geneva and interested.

Happy to continue the discussion and solicit the community's thoughts on blockchain (as well as IoT/AI) as leapfrogging technologies for vaccine supply chains.


  1. more than a month ago
  2. Supply chain and logistics
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Thanks Roice, and good luck for your talk tonight! I'd love to hear about the highlights of the discussion you'll have with people attending (I imagine there will be professionals from other sectors than immunization supply chain, so great potential learning and collaborating opportunities!).

While looking for more info on blockchain and heath supply chain, I came across a scoping review on uses of digital technology for good governance for the health sectors of LLMICs published by Medic Mobile, University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge, from December 2016. There is nothing specific on blockchain in that review, but it is apparently because they could not find any concrete applications of it being applied in LLMICs. Maybe another opportunity to collaborate :)

For those who want to know more or have a clearer understanding of the benefits blockchain technology can offer, I remember a post from Chris Wright featuring a link on some great infographics explaining how it works:

Chris Wright - it's been a year since your post, anything to report on applying the blockchain technology to immunization supply chain?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Supply chain and logistics
  3. # 2
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