08 July 2021 | Opinion | By Hithaishi C Bhaksar
Governments around the world are exploring the potential benefits of using an ‘vaccine passports’ as a way to reopening the economy by identifying and permitting only those who are protected against COVID-19
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As the aftermath of the pandemic continues to pummel international trade and businesses across sectors, a concerted attempt is on to develop and deploy potential technologies such as digital and biometric passports. Travel corridors are slowly opening for vaccinated individuals with the prospect of the 'digital vaccine certificate/passport' as an integral part of international travel. Digital vaccine tracking system, the “vaccine passport” is a form of e-certificate that provides proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test results. Yet, they require international or national coordination on the best practices to implement cross-border vaccine passes.
While the world awaits herd immunity, millions of vaccinated individuals across the world are eagerly anticipating trade and operational plans at the vaccination horizons. Border checkpoints are reviving vigilance around the globe and countries are exploring novel methodologies to revive international travel, an essential social and business component at present
While the COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out around the world and testing is becoming customary for international travel, many tech firms and healthcare organizations are collaborating to ensure access to a secure, digital record of their Covid-19 vaccination status. Several companies and technology groups have developed smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccinations and thereby create digital credentials permitting entry to a venue, university, workplace, hotels, public transport, tourist destinations, or traveling across borders.
The World Health Organisation is also working on a Smart Vaccination Certificate, which will provide guidelines and standards for every digital vaccine passport. A number of agencies including UNICEF, ITU, and the European Commission are contributing along with WHO to this initiative. The finalized specifications and standards for digital vaccination certificates will be architected for a link to national and cross-border digital systems.
The apparent technical issues and rising ethical concerns about COVID infection and risk stratification based on immunological status involve varied considerations. WHO has already alerted around the concerns associated with the ethical acceptability of immunity certification. If a standardized and widely accepted pass emerges, it will eliminate the need to carry physical documentation. Granting credibility to the online certification can make travel equitable, safe, inclusive, and convenient. Yet, there are concerns and considerations and a few are listed below.
Implementation and accuracy concerns:
Safety and privacy concerns:
Ethical and Equality concerns.
To read more on Asia-Pacific efforts in vaccine passport click Here