The Public Health Blockchain Consortium (PHBC) announced on Thursday the release of VirusBlockchain.com, a new blockchain that it says will track communities that remain free of high-risk viruses and diseases like COVID-19, bacteria, and fungi.
According to its website, “PHBC is a consortium of health authorities, universities, health care providers and innovators who strive to collect, safely store and analyse anonymous health data on PHBC-connected blockchain health records in order to eradicate diseases and improve the lives of people around the world.”
However, no partners are listed on its website. Instead, the PHBC has open invites for participants to join the blockchain and said it will present results from participating communities and workplaces at a conference next year.
VirusBlockchain will purportedly use certificates from security organizations and government bodies who are monitoring cases to “automatically identify zones” like communities and companies that are deemed free of infectious diseases “by integrating real-time information from virus surveillance providers with artificial intelligence (AI) geographical information systems (GIS).” That information would then be placed on a blockchain.
“Communities and workplaces can maintain such safe zone status if they restrict access to anonymously identified persons and only allow movement to and from other safe zones,” said Ayon Hazra, CEO of Qlikchain, which will administer the blockchain.
Hazra continued: “Unlike traditional infectious disease surveillance that focuses on infected persons, this is a system that monitors the movement of uninfected persons instead, with a view to restricting their return if they have passed through areas known to be infected.”
A press release from the consortium added that people who have “entered an infected area are required to remain in a quarantine zone before they are permitted into a safe zone.” Such a system would be similar to how citizens around the world are being asked to self-quarantine when in contact with potentially infected persons.
However, it’s unclear how this project would track “anonymously identified persons,” why this is an appropriate use case for decentralized ledgers, or whether governments have expressed any interest in adopting such a tool. Decrypt reached out to Hazra but did not get a response.