UK plans test of digital health passports for Covid vaccine recipients

Vaccine Passport will be issued as a free app which show if people have had Covid jab

Smartphone displaying an invalid digital vaccination certificate for COVID-19
The UK government is funding a trial of health passports for Britons who have received coronavirus vaccines. digital health passports uk
The digital passport, created by cybersecurity company Mvine and biometrics specialist iProov, will be issued through a free app for users to provide digital proof of their vaccine.

The trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and will be complete in March. However, the locations have yet to be agreed.

Innovate UK, the government’s science and research funding agency, has pumped £75,000 into the project, reports Telegraph.

The aim of the trial is to show how the passports can be used to help the NHS keep track of the number of people that have received the first or second dose of the vaccine.

Frank Joshi, director and founder of Mvine, said the company first began working on the passes to demonstrate test results but had since acquired more funding to pivot into vaccination passports.

iProov boss Andrew Bud told the paper: ‘We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS.’

Both companies added that if the vaccine passports prove successful, the project could be rolled out to millions of people across the country.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.’

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were ‘not the plan’ while Boris Johnson’s vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi said they were ‘looking at the technology’.  Mr Zahawi later told a Westminster Hall debate on Covid-19 inoculation there were ‘absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting’ and said ‘mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong’.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week also denied plans to implement passporting, telling the Spectator: ‘It’s not an area that we’re looking at.’

The policy has sparked concern that the passports could discriminate against people who must not be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Others fear it could keep non-vaccinated Britons under house arrest until they have a jab.

The idea of introducing vaccination certifications has already been floated in Europe, with Greek ministers suggesting that EU countries adopt a ‘standardised’ vaccine passport in order to promote travel and boost the industry.

In a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested: ‘Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.

‘It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states’.  

The governments of Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Spain, Denmark and Belgium have all hinted that they would support such a scheme – although the idea is already raising concerns about privacy and data-sharing.  digital health passports uk

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