Tech Mahindra taps StaTwig for blockchain tracking of vaccines

Indian IT giant Tech Mahindra has joined forces with blockchain company StaTwig to develop a traceability system for vaccines for the international market.

The open source VaccineLedger platform is designed to provide producer to patient traceability for vaccines in the global supply chain, say the partners, and will be designed to detect counterfeit shots as well as predict and prevent shortages and expired or nearing end of shelf-life products.

The partners see a big opportunity for the system as COVID-19 vaccination programmes gather pace around the world, particularly as reports emerge of difficulties in making sure that supplies are used before there expiration date.

One of the first tasks for the partnership will be to build a consortium of vaccine researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and healthcare organisations to help develop the system globally.

A mobile app used to verify and record shipments as they are received at warehouses or other parts of the supply chain is already available for iOS and Android, and Hyderabad-based StaTwig has been trialling the platform within India.

The company – backed by the UNICEF Innovation Fund – originally developed VaccineLedger to try to improve the delivery of vaccines to hard-to-access rural areas in India, where it is estimated that one in five children miss out on routine immunisations.

Using VaccineLedger, at each stage of a vaccine's journey through the supply chain critical information about the shipment – such as temperature, humidity, chain of custody and location – are recorded on a blockchain ledger. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 50 per cent of vaccines are at risk of being wasted globally each year due to logistics, temperature control and shipment related issues

Tech Mahindra's blockchain and cybersecurity practice leader for the APAC and EMEA regions, Rajesh Dhuddu, said: Wastage of life saving drugs such as vaccines should be addressed on priority and we need to come together in order to effectively find a solution here."

He added that the alliance with StaTwig "will enable supply chain participants with a single application to enhance traceability, and chain of custody. This will not only ensure safety and validity of vaccine supply but also helps in adherence to complex regulatory requirements, set up by [regulators] in any country."

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