Innovation to fight Covid-19. A wise and critical approach.
A few days have passed since the publication of our i-Covid19 certificates, digital records with Blockchain technology of the state of health of people in relation to the COVID-19 disease and their degree of immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition to the great attention given, we have received comments and remarks on other technological initiatives to fight the pandemic.
The most commented have to do with the tracking of people who may have been in contact with those infected by the coronavirus. The objective is to be able to alert as soon as possible of their possible contagion. Assuming that such applications will respect privacy, and recognizing their potential usefulness in curbing the expansion of COVID-19 when they become available, they will not always be the most effective measure to respond to the circumstances of all territories or to the objectives of rapid recovery of economic activities.
Let’s take the example of the Canary or Balearic Islands, geographically isolated territories less affected by the pandemic. The monitoring of islanders, their movements and relationships, logically will have little impact since the incidence of cases is low, and even more after the disappearance of the peak of infection. The real problem they will have to face comes from abroad, from travelers and tourists arriving on the islands. These will be presented without a monitoring app nor with previous data on mobility or contacts. So, how will it be possible to defend against a potential recur of the infection? Well, establishing as an entry requirement the proof of not being infected or that it has already been overcome. And this can only be achieved through providing authentic, unforgeable personal certificates, easy to share in advance upon arrival and with the possibility of being verified immediately by third parties (hotels, restaurants, airlines …).
The only technology that could help the management of this secure information is Blockchain technology. And not applied anyhow, but in such a way that the above-mentioned requirements are met, and which must include:
- Health status information provided by approved laboratories.
- Personalized identification of each certificate, but anonymized to respect privacy.
- Separate certification of the holder’s identity from the corresponding immunity certificate.
- Accessibility to always carry it at hand (on the mobile phone).
- Potential to be shared simply and quickly.
- Ability to verify its authenticity each time it is served.
- Capacity to update information about the immunity status or expire depending on the result.
- Make reference to the most recent indications of the health authorities about the behaviors to adhere in each condition.
In the current market situation, only BlockTac i-Covid19 certificates meet those conditions.
Some voices speak of the potential danger of segregation between groups of people by identifying their immunity status. Nothing more unreasoned and preposterous. First of all: everyone has a great interest in knowing if they are infected. Being identified promptly is crucial for her and for those around her. It allows treatment to begin immediately and to be isolated (which here lacks any derogatory connotation). Secondly, those who have overcome the infection have acquired, according to current knowledge, the condition of immunity, and even though this is a good state, they must ensure that they follow the measures being recommended. And, finally, the rest of the population, to the extent that they have been given negative results in infection controls, in the absence of symptoms, will be able to lead a normal life, although following also the recommended guidelines and repeating the tests regularly or when a change in health status is detected.
As can be deduced, it is a matter of applying common sense and appropriately execute the same type of measures that were applied before the pandemic when traveling to regions affected by endemic diseases for which vaccines or treatments are available.