In recent months China has been hit by a series of fake vaccine scandals.  Photo: iStock
In recent months China has been hit by a series of fake vaccine scandals. Photo: iStock

VeChain, a blockchain-based foundation that examines global supply chains to ensure the authenticity and quality of food and drug products, has had a busy week.

At the start of this week it announced it has been running a Drug and Vaccine Traceability Solution in partnership with the Shanghai municipal government. “China is currently facing a tragic vaccine scandal, where it was recently discovered that Chinese vaccine manufacturers provided hundreds of thousands of faulty and falsely documented vaccines to Chinese school children,” said a VeChain Foundation Medium blog post.

VeChain’s traceability solution has been running since 2016 and is currently the only blockchain project supported by the Shanghai government. “VeChain is the only approved blockchain traceability provider in Shanghai and has been tasked to achieve the China traceability requirements by 2020. VeChain’s traceability solution is being developed and tested in Shanghai, and will soon be rolled out across China,” the blog post continued.

This is now especially important after the news in July that health-care company Changsheng Bio-technology Co. was hit by fines from China’s pharmaceutical regulator for having produced 250,000 low-quality vaccines for infants. The company was also found to have fabricated data for a rabies vaccine as far back as 2014.

In addition, the regulator announced that vaccine maker, state-owned Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co, had produced more than 400,000 low-quality infant vaccines.

VeChain’s platforms combines IoT technology – that uses RFID and “near field communication” (or NFC) tags to track supply chain movements – with its own proprietary VeChainThor Blockchain that captures and records production and transportation data. The system can even monitor temperature levels for vaccines, from manufacture through storage, cold chain distribution and hospital usage. Each vaccine is labelled with a unique identifying code that covers the complete history of the product.

Also this week came the announcement that VeChain has been chosen for the NTT Docomo 5G Partner Program. “Our goal is to enhance and enrich our current data services capacity within traceability, supply chain management, and smartphones for our users. With our ongoing effort to bring traceability use cases in Japan into our ecosystem, the 5G program will bring additional value to VeChain’s presence in the region,” said VeChain.

NTT Docomo is the largest telecommunication company in Japan, with around 75 million users and a 45% market share of all mobile phone subscriptions. Other partners working with this new program include MUFG Bank, The Asahi Shimbun, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, Astellas Pharma Inc, Sony and the Okinawa Prefectural Government.

The Japanese telecom giant aims to have its high-speed 5G mobile network in “industrial usage” by 2020 and VeChain says it intends to “provide next-generation technology services by utilizing 5G in collaboration with NTT Docomo on the VeChainThor Blockchain.” This, says VeChain, will “enhance and enrich our current data services capacity” for traceability and supply chain management and “will bring additional value to VeChain’s presence in the region.”

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