History is repeating itself with the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing back more than a century old memory of the 1918 Spanish flu crisis. Just like the last time this too is a novel influenza virus that has rapidly spread across geographies.
Initially what felt like a global health crisis, has transcended the physical aspect to impact us in the financial and political fronts as well. In the wake of the pandemic not only has global healthcare suffered a massive setback but it has plunged major economies into a deep financial crisis, which has ultimately led to a shift in the political dynamics as well.
So, the moral of the pandemic story is that COVID-19 has affected our physical, financial, and political states, which will potentially shape the post-pandemic future of the world. But what role does blockchain has to play in all of this? For a better understanding of that, lets first get a clear picture of the entire COVID situation covering all three affected states.
The Pandemic Trio
Here’s a brief overview of the three states or rather affected areas of the pandemic crisis:
This is the first front which covers personal health as well as global healthcare from a broader perspective. The physical state includes everything starting from personal safety from the virus, healthcare professionals, quarantine and social distancing protocols, testing kits, drug discovery, and vaccine development.
The second state that has been hit by the novel coronavirus is financial. Even before the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic, the financial markets went down with the major indexes crashing due to panic-induced sell-off. Things took a turn for the worst economically when nationwide lockdowns where declared on a global scale.
At the moment innumerable businesses are on temporary lockdown. The ones that are still functioning are doing so with a limited workforce or through remote working while struggling with issues such as lack of resources and infrastructure.
The financial crisis has affected the spending habits of the population, with people only buying essentials like food, critical medical supply, and other basic needs. Since the consumers have limited their spending it has created a supply and demand imbalance in the market. Production is also at a low, causing a chain reaction of lessers jobs leading to less expenditure which ultimately leads to faltering health of the economy.
The chances of the economy to bounce back is all depending on the release of a vaccine and its mass distribution to eradicate the disease.
When healthcare and finance take a hit, it is bound to have an impact on politics. Over the last week, we saw protests erupting across the USA, with people demanding their right to work and a daily wage. It has led multiple states to lift the lockdown, inviting the risk of contagion. On a global scale, a shift in world power dynamics can be felt as well, which will become more apparent in the coming days.
So, as we can see all three aspects of the pandemic are interlinked. One is dependent on the other. As the number of coronavirus cases goes down, lockdowns will be lifted, which will resume business enabling people to get back their source of income. With the health and financial balance restored there will be peace in the political front as well. So the only solution here is containing the virus for normalcy to get restored. In the meantime, an increase in blockchain deployment is playing its part in making things easier for the world in the time of the pandemic.
Blockchain – The Avenger in the Time of Pandemic?
Over these past months of the pandemic ordeal, blockchain has emerged as the silver lining against all adversities. Blockchain deployment and collaborations all aimed at mitigating the global crisis are accelerated across geographies. Starting from healthcare to finance, experts and industry players are coming up with their DLT strategies to streamline the fragmented legacy architecture.
The key precautionary measure of the pandemic is the minimum human interaction. Since traditional systems cannot function that way, blockchain is being integrated to reduce human interference to prevent the risk of contagion. DLT is being used in the medical supply chain to streamline the supply of critical products and to reduce the paperwork and the involvement of third-party intermediaries.
Blockchain is being used in the insurance sector in certain geographies to fast-track the corona insurance claims. The use of smart contracts to facilitate the claims eliminates the need for personnel involvement and authenticates all information about the process.
Even crypto is having a hero moment as charitable organizations are accepting digital currencies as donations. The Italian and Red Cross has successfully undertaken crypto fundraisers raising money to help the affected.
The key to fighting a pandemic is access to authentic information. That’s how researchers can come up with new treatments and a possible vaccine. To that effect, the WHO has launched its blockchain platform for information sharing and to track the pandemic activity.
In the financial sphere, the central banks are more resolute to launch a digital alternative of physical money, i.e. a CBDC, as the exchange of cash can lead to one contracting the disease.
Governments all around the world are providing the affected population with financial stimulus aid. However, there have been complaints regarding the mode of payment. In certain case since the payment is getting deposited in bank accounts, complaints regarding the banks and creditors intercepting the payments are coming in as well. To avert that, experts are urging the government to resort to stablecoins or crypto payments which gets directly deposited to the recipient’s wallet, at a reduced cost and without the need for any third-party intermediary.
These are just the highlights of the blockchain involvement in the pandemic crisis, as there are lots more to come to light in the future.
The Future Impact
Blockchain has truly emerged as the hero doing its best in guarding and preventing further degradation of the three states of the pandemic. It has shown positive results in places that it has been used until now. In the wake of this crisis, the world has resorted to DLT to address the pain areas existent in the traditional systems, which is likely to continue in the days to come. The COVID-19 has given a chance to the world to put blockchain to put to use, and the industry is now quite a few steps closer to mainstream adoption.