Hope Consortium ushers in the age of blockchain to ensure safety and integrity of the global COVID-19 vaccine supply chains
Hope Consortium, an Abu Dhabi-led public-private partnership delivering large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines globally, is utilizing internally developed “mUnity” system to ensure full visibility, safety and security, and tamper-proof distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, despite the complexities of their transportation.
Developed by Maqta Gateway, Abu Dhabi Ports’ digital technologies subsidiary and a founding member of the Hope Consortium, mUnity is a proprietary custom-built digital system that employs blockchain technology that is being used to track and trace COVID-19 vaccine sourcing, storage, shipment and all related data in real-time at every step of the vaccine journey. The system features robust end-to-end visibility of every vaccine, starting from the manufacturing facility, to when they arrive at vaccination centres in the UAE and other destinations worldwide. Based on the availability of data, the system, has the capability to track individual vaccine doses up until the time of the administration of the dose.
Dr. Omar Najim, Executive Office Director at the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, said: “With the launch of mUnity, the Hope Consortium, from its hub in Abu Dhabi, continues to cement its position as a premiere platform for helping the world overcome the global pandemic safely and effectively. With the global demand already outstripping available supplies, vaccines are becoming not only a precious commodity from a healthcare value perspective, but also from financial and security point of view. mUnity will provide an added layer of protection thereby ensuring that vaccines arrive in the right place, at the right time, to the right people and in the right conditions.”
“Transporting, storing and delivering vaccines is one of the most challenging and specialized logistical processes in normal circumstances. With the pandemic, the Hope Consortium is taking on the added challenge of managing complexities of transporting the much-needed COVID-19 vaccines, due to their strict temperature requirements. Maqta Gateway’s solution allows all Consortium partners to maintain visibility and drive vital decisions on temperature integrity, demand planning and security of vaccines, wherever they are in the world.”
Maqta Gateway has built mUnity to be a secure and flexible solution that can scale to hundreds of millions of transactions for up to the 18 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses that the Hope Consortium aims to distribute by the end of 2021. The system has the ability to adapt to multiple journeys, different vaccine characteristics, and specific stakeholder requirements. The Hope Consortium continues to present a prime example of how “team Abu Dhabi” with all its different public private and partners, continues to show the world the benefits of collaboration.
Dr. Noura Al Dhaheri, Head of the Digital Cluster at Abu Dhabi Ports and CEO of Maqta Gateway, said: “mUnity is built upon the tried and tested digital technology that we developed originally for managing marine shipments and port communities. In order to manage the safe and secure distribution of vaccines worldwide, mUnity incorporates blockchain technology, which enables efficient management of data, transparency, and also provides sophisticated defense against the threat of criminal activity.
“With mUnity, Maqta Gateway serves as a key enabler of one of the world’s largest supply chain efforts of its kind to date, supporting the Hope Consortium in the timely and equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The system has managed and tracked all COVID-19 vaccine supplies delivered to, and through, Abu Dhabi so far, and serves as an example of how Abu Dhabi’s public-private partnership is helping solve the challenges of the global pandemic.”
The journey of COVID-19 vaccines, from manufacturers to end users, involves navigating safety and security risks at every stage. Shippers, airlines and storage facilities all use data in different ways and various formats. The import and export of pharmaceuticals is strictly regulated and carefully controlled, and the rules and requirements vary according to the source and recipient country. COVID-19 vaccines are temperature-sensitive and have precise handling and storage requirements; and failure to comply can render them ineffective. Furthermore, there is a very real threat of nefarious actors seeking to profit from the disruption of vaccine supply chains, whether from hacking attempts, counterfeit vaccines or theft of data and supplies.
mUnity’s blockchain capability addresses all of these risks by providing tamper-proof real-time updates on all the storage and handling environment parameters along the Hope Consortium’s supply chain, including vaccine storage levels, temperature controls, stock levels, and quantities of ancillary supplies. Each transaction in the supply chain is documented on the blockchain, with security and privacy built into the system from within. This unalterable chain of data helps prevent the development of counterfeit shipments from hacked data and pinpoints any incidences of tampering during shipment. Thus, mUnity helps the Consortium ensure that every safety protocol has been followed from the manufacturing plant to their final destination, and that all relevant information about the vaccines’ integrity is intact and reliable. Furthermore, the data provided by mUnity is vital to addressing vaccine wastage, which is key to ensuring that large segments of the global population have access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The Hope Consortium, established to deliver billions of COVID-19 doses around the world by end of 2021, is a UAE-based public-private partnership comprised of six founding global and Abu Dhabi-based supply chain players. Immediately following its formation, the Consortium added a number of leading international freight forwarders including Agility, Aramex, Hellmann and Kuehne + Nagel, to enhance its logistics capabilities. Since its formation in November 2020, the Hope Consortium has already sourced, stored and distributed millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers to medical centres worldwide, with the entire process managed by the mUnity system.
Since its establishment in 2016, Maqta Gateway has efficiently processed more than 30 million transactions related to marine shipments, with full traceability.