Researchers Are Tapping Blockchain Tools in Fight Against Coronavirus

A series of ongoing efforts across universities, medical academia, the private sector and even private citizens are harnessing distributed systems in the fight against COVID-19.

The projects are attempting to buttress governmental stay-at-home orders that have frozen billions of people in a global effort to flatten the curve. There’s no known cure for COVID-19 and there will be no vaccine against the coronavirus that causes it for at least a year, leaving medical practitioners, researchers and innovators to try and find ways of mitigating its impact – and blockchain boosters are finding new fronts to pitch in.

One such avenue is in contact tracing. Hasshi Sudler, an adjunct professor with Villanova University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is leading development of a permissioned blockchain for doctors to trace positive COVID-19 cases, possibly getting ahead of future outbreaks.

“Medical institutions, whether they know each other or not, whether they trust each other or not, can exchange information about who they know that is infected and maintain contact with who is infected,” over the blockchain, Sudler told CoinDesk.

The need is clear: a number of countries instituted lockdowns to prevent the virus’s spread, leading to massive unemployment numbers and a likely recession.

The Villanova project is still in its early stages, but around the world other initiatives are racing ahead, or already deployed.

In Berlin, startup Spherity has developed a decentralized identity system to help patients keep their social distance while getting medication. Honduran authorities have deployed a blockchain-backed app to track and manage stay-at-home orders.

Six thousand ethereum miners are now contributing to Stanford University’s Folding@home distributed computing project, which pools GPU power to search for a COVID-19 cure.

Academia, too, has begun prodding for novel blockchain pandemic applications. An April 5 submission to the journal…

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