On April 17, it has been reported that the partnership devised a solution for fighting the pandemic that complies with European data privacy laws.
Volkmar Weckesser, the CIO for Centogene, which has collected epidemiologic, phenotypic and genetic data for 500,000 patients worldwide to date, said:
“[SARS-CoV-2] test results can be accessed everywhere in a forgery-proof manner ─ spearheading a return to normality.”
However, the COVID-19 global crisis has led many privacy advocates to point to the blockchain as a key tool in the technological arsenal that can prevent overreach of state-led biosurveillance.
By collecting and analyzing data all together appears to be key to tackling the public health crisis, and encrypted blockchain systems can potentially help mitigate the worst effects of surveillance on individuals’ privacy, particularly when it comes to sensitive health data.
Likewise, there have been long-standing debates about how blockchain technology interacts with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a landmark European Union-wide legal framework for personal data privacy, which took effect in May 2018.
It has been analyzed that high-profile GDPR principles such as the right to be forgotten and the other far-reaching requirements the legislation places upon EU firms have sparked the question of whether blockchain networks, which are notably immutable, and do not erase data, can be made compatible with the framework.
Moreover, the solution developed by Ubirch and Centogene apparently focuses on GDPR conformity:
“According to the highest data protection standards, user data is only stored as hash values on the blockchain and cannot be interpreted without user authorization.”
Also, Centogene has developed a SARS-CoV-2 test itself, which can be performed at the firm’s laboratories, as blockchain is used to directly seal the test results virtually and provide individuals with a verifiable blockchain certificate by indicating whether they have tested positive or negative for the virus.
The companies claim:
“This form of distributed security has already proven itself in other industrial environments. The IoT-based procedure is ideally suited to secure and verify medical data.”
Thus, the companies also said that the blockchain portal will also be suitable for prospective proof-of-immunity requirements, based on antibody testing, providing users with a verified status that can help society to “swiftly lift the lockdown restrictions and move on to more targeted measures.”