Vaccination passports may be introduced in 2021: what are they
Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to spread in the US and overseas, many people have started dreaming again of the day when they can travel, go shopping and go to the movies again. But in order to perform these steps, you may need something besides the vaccination - a vaccination passport. Writes about it CNN.
Several companies and technology groups have begun to develop smartphone apps to enable people to upload their COVID-19 and vaccination tests, creating digital credentials that can be displayed when entering concert venues, stadiums, cinemas, offices, or even when entering other countries.
The Common Trust Network, an initiative of the Geneva-based non-profit organization The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of healthcare representatives ...
application CommonPasscreated by the group, allows users to upload medical data such as COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination from a hospital or healthcare professional, health certificate. Also, this data can be transmitted in the form of a QR code, which can be demonstrated without disclosing confidential information. For travel, the application will indicate the requirements at the points of departure and arrival, depending on the route.
“When you cross the border, you can test every time, but not the vaccine,” said Thomas Crampton, director of marketing and communications for Commons. He stressed the need for a simple and easily transferable set of credentials or a “digital yellow card”, referring to a document that is usually issued as proof of vaccination.
Large tech companies are also involved in this process. IBM has developed a proprietary app called the Digital Health Pass that allows businesses and institutions to customize the metrics they need to enter territory, including COVID-19 tests, body temperature screening, and vaccination records.
In trying to solve the one problem of getting back to normal after widespread vaccine deployment, developers may now have to face other challenges, ranging from privacy issues to the effectiveness of various vaccines.
But the most pressing challenge may be simply to avoid the controversial success of technology's previous attempt to address the public health crisis: contact tracing apps.
Early in the pandemic, Apple and Google ditched the smartphone rivalry and jointly developed a Bluetooth-based system to notify users if they encountered someone with COVID-19. Many countries and state governments around the world have also developed and used their own applications.
“I think the problem was more of a lack of federal leadership, where each state had to go it alone and tackle it independently,” said Jenny Vanger, who leads contact notification initiatives for the Linux Foundation Public Health, a technical organization that helps health authorities around the world to fight COVID-19.
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This time, to foster better coordination, the Linux Foundation has partnered with the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative, a collective of more than 300 people representing dozens of organizations on five continents, and is working with IBM and CommonPass to help develop a set of universal standards for vaccination data applications.
“If we are successful, everyone with a vaccination passport will be able not only to cross the border, but also to attend a concert or other event where vaccination requirements will be displayed,” said Brian Belendorf, executive director of the Linux Foundation.
“The application has to be universal in the same way as email, as well as the Internet,” he said.
However, most of the world's population still does not use smartphones or have access to them.
Several companies under the COVID-19 Accounting Initiative are also developing a smart card that is a middle ground between traditional paper vaccine certificates and an online version that is easier to store and reproduce.
“It is important for us that people can provide information not only through smartphones, but also in other ways. It is designed for those people who do not have access to a stable internet and also do not have smartphones, ”said Lucy Young. "We are doing this and there are companies that are doing really promising work."
Once a vaccination passport is created, companies will need to make sure people are comfortable using it. This means overcoming concerns about the processing of private health information.
CommonPass, IBM and the Linux Foundation have emphasized the importance of privacy in their initiatives. IBM says the app will allow users to control and consent to the use of their health data, and will also allow them to choose the level of detail of the information they want to provide to authorities.
“Trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform such as a digital health passport or any solution that handles sensitive personal information,” the company said in a statement. "Putting privacy first is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in these challenging times."
Since vaccines are produced by several companies in several countries at different stages of development, passport manufacturers must take this into account.
“The point of entry - whether it's the border, the venue - will want to know if you've received the vaccine from Pfizer or received the Russian vaccine,” Crampton said. The difference can be significant: the vaccine developed by the Chinese state pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, for example, is 86% effective, while the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are about 95% effective.
It's also unclear how effective vaccines are in preventing transmission of the virus, says Dr. Julie Parsonnet, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University.
“We still don't know if vaccinated people can transmit the virus,” she said. "Until this becomes clear, we will not know if the passports will be valid."
However, Belendorf expects the rollout and adoption of vaccination passports to happen fairly quickly once things fall into place, and expects various applications that can work with each other to be “widely available” in the first half of 2021.
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- All US residents vaccinated against coronavirus will receive vaccination cards.
- Alan Joyce, the head of the Australian airline Qantas Airlines, believes that in the future COVID-19 vaccination certificate will become mandatory for everyone who wants to travel.
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