UK University Trials Blockchain Covid-19 Immunity Certificates

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A British university team is developing an application that certifies Covid-19 immunity tests on the blockchain. In a world first, the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University has created a prototype smartphone app that enables verification of coronavirus test results and vaccination certificates on the blockchain, benefiting from technology’s tamper-proof nature.

Digital Smartphone Certificates on the Blockchain

The project, which is currently in its testing phase, has the ultimate aim of enabling GPs and pharmacists to carry out tests and issue digital certificates through the app.

The app could be used by both frontline staff and members of the public to prove they have coronavirus antibodies in their bloodstream and are therefore immune to the disease, which could be used to verify their fitness to work in certain environments or if they need to travel.

The immunity certification process involves the use of a decentralized personal data store on an undisclosed consortium blockchain, which holds encoded hashes of certificates to serve as an immutable and trusted registry.

Scalable, Portable, and Reliable

The user would need to provide proof of their identity before testing, with the identity hashed and sent to the blockchain. If that person turns out to be immune, the GP or pharmacist could issue their immunity certificate on the app. Anyone seeking to verify the person’s immunity could simply use their own app to check the certificate, sending a hashed version to the blockchain to match it against the identity.

Professor John Domingue, director of the Knowledge Media Institute, said that the team have been “highly motivated” to contribute to the fight against coronavirus, using cutting edge technology in the battle.

He added that the app, which builds on “several years of research into decentralized certification” is scalable and is “waiting in the wings” for a time when immunity testing is possible. This positive use of blockchain is a welcome break from the slew of negative headlines regarding criminals using cryptocurrency and blockchain to take advantage of the impact of the coronavirus.