As covid vaccines roll out in a handful of countries, the next question has become: How do people prove they’ve been inoculated? For months, this conversation—and the ethical questions any “vaccine passport” system would raise—has been theoretical, but over the last few weeks, efforts have become more concrete. Australian airline Qantas started running a trial in March, while New York launched the first state-level system in the US last week. And on April 5, the UK said it would conduct a pilot as part of its gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. The moves have prompted various reactions: some states in the US have endorsed the concpt; others have banned it.
The Biden administration said this week that it won’t build a national vaccination app, leaving it to the private sector to create mobile digital passports that can prove people have been vaccinated for Covid-19.
New York recently launched a vaccine passport called the “Excelsior Pass.” Brian Behlendorf, general manager of Blockchain Healthcare and Identity at the Linux Foundation of Public Health, talks about what it is, and how people in the open source community are advocating for systems like these to be linked, so people don’t need multiple apps. Then, Albert Fox Cahn, founder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) at the Urban Justice Center, a New York–based civil rights and privacy group, and a fellow at the Engelberg Center for Innovation Law & Policy at NYU School of Law shares concerns about privacy and the digital divide.
Starting Friday, New Yorkers will be able to pull up a code on their cellphone or a printout to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus that causes it.
The Biden administration is working on creating a set of standards for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to an administration official.
When Philippe Srour and his wife, Laurence, took an Air France flight to Paris from San Francisco in mid-March, they were given a novel opportunity to escape some of the madness of pandemic-era travel. In exchange for the promise of less hassle at border and security checks, the couple agreed to use a mobile app to display their Covid-19 test results. The trial wasn’t a total success.
As of February 18, the global coronavirus cases stood at 110.2 million, with a death toll of 2.42 million. With public health authorities and governments endeavouring to get ahead of the virus, the urgency is now focused on effective and pervasive vaccine distribution. The magnitude and scale to mobilize a global solution have never been more pressing given the rate of the disease’s spread. For COVID-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI), their likely countermeasure using Verifiable Credentials may just prove to be one solution to help safely reopen the economy by enabling speed of information for effective decisions.
As more countries look to adopt digital COVID-19 vaccine passports, one American tech expert says the certificates should be developed using a “privacy-preserving approach.”
“There’s a lot of us who have deep concerns about issues of equity, issues of, obviously, privacy … if you were to implement the [vaccine passport] system,” said Brian Behlendorf, managing director of blockchain, health care and identity at the Linux Foundation, a non-profit that is working on vaccine passport software.
The news: Researchers in the UK have calculated that its contact tracing app may have prevented around 600,000 cases of covid-19. The announcement is good news for the system—which underwent serious teething problems—and a step forward for exposure notification systems more generally.
So you got the Covid-19 vaccine. Is it a ticket to take a trip wherever you want? Some tourist destinations say yes, as the concept of a “vaccine passport” circulates around the world.