In a country where food scandals have unfortunately become the norm, a new vaccine scandal has appeared that is shaking society to its core. According to whistleblowers and official reports, a major state-backed biotech company that holds numerous subsidiaries and produces a huge percentage of the vaccines used for infants and children in China has been found to have intentionally falsified a number of records – including those related to inspections and safety checks. This begs the question, could a blockchain-based system make any kind of difference in a part of the world that has seen endless amounts of grasping for, in the words of Premier Li Ke Qiang, the “moral bottom line”? According to China-based blockchain group, Waltonchain, that answer is an emphatic yes.
The Needle Point of the Vaccine Scandal
According to reports, an anonymous whistleblower released information implicating that the company Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd. was found faking records for vaccines, including that for rabies.
According to one author who writes for a state-endorsed media outlet The Paper, the potentially corrupted vaccines were equivalent to “child abuse and trafficking” and that it “touches on the most sensitive, vulnerable part of the public’s heart.”
Many parents in the country are in a mad scramble to try and figure out whose children among them all were given bad vaccines. Some unofficial sources on Chinese social media are implying that the majority of the bad vaccines went to low income areas in central China like Shandong and Hebei provinces, well away from the watchful eyes of the much more scrutinized and protected wealthy coastal provinces like Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Waltonchain: Let Us Fix It
One China-based blockchain project that is focused on providing logistics and tracking services, Waltonchain, stepped up in the wake of the scandal and posted this to their Twitter feed (which is ironically blocked in China):
In view of the recent vaccine case in China, Waltonchain has decided to provide free of charge traceability solutions for vaccine enterprises, governments and hospitals.
— Waltonchain (@Waltonchain) July 24, 2018
The offer states that Waltonchain will provide free support to any government, “vaccine enterprises”, or hospitals that want their help in securing their supply lines.
This isn’t the first time that Waltonchain has offered to help China in dealing with its unique problems regarding fakes and food scandals. The company recently announced their program called WTC-Food that was targeted at helping to fight the near endless stream of food safety scandals that come out of China.
Read: Our Guide to Waltonchain
Garbage in, garbage out?
While a blockchain based solution does sound compelling as a concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean that problems like this will never happen again. In a think piece written by Shawn Gordon for Hackernoon, Gordon discussed the classic computing concept known as garbage in, garbage out.
Basically speaking, it means that even if you have the most advanced tracking system (such as Waltonchain), this still does not remove the human element and the chance for either unintentional mistakes or outright intentional fraud.
What happened in this scandal is that the company responsible for this, or at least some of its management, intentionally falsified records. Who is to say that simply putting record-keeping on a blockchain would prevent nefarious individuals from simply starting out with fraudulent data entries in an attempt to increase profits by not wasting it on critical inspections or other safety measures?
Moving to a blockchain-based system could be a step in the right direction, but that alone is likely not going to be enough to solve the complicated issue of fakes and intentional tampering in parts of the world like China.