Health and tech groups are working together to create a digital vaccination passport with the hope that governments, airlines and other businesses will demand proof that people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a coalition of organizations including Microsoft, Oracle and the U.S. nonprofit Mayo Clinic, aims to set standards for verifying whether a person has been vaccinated and to prevent people from falsely claiming to be protected against disease.
The coalition builds on the work done by one of its members, The Commons project, to develop an internationally accepted digital certificate to prove that travelers have tested negative for Covid-19. The pass developed by the non-profit organization, created with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, is now used by the top three air alliances.
Paul Meyer, chief executive of The Commons Project, said people vaccinated so far often only received a piece of paper, reminiscent of the “old yellow cards.” By working with healthcare IT companies, such as Epic and Cerner in the US, the new system will be able to tap into electronic medical records to create a digital map.
Mr Meyer said the coalition was in talks with several governments who expected their entry requirements to evolve over the next few months from negative testing to a “hybrid,” accepting tests or proof of vaccination.
“Individuals will need to produce immunization records for many aspects of returning to normal life,” he added. “We live in a globally connected world. We used to it anyway – and hope to do it again.
Each country can set its own rules such as, for example, which vaccines it will accept. The system will be responsible for keeping the data secure and individuals will keep their records in a digital wallet, or on a paper QR code, so they can control who they share it with.
Joan Harvey, president of Care Solutions for Evernorth, the healthcare arm of insurer Cigna, said she expected some companies, such as event planners, to require proof of vaccination of their clients, while universities can request it from students and employers of workers.
“We insure thousands of companies around the world and this is obviously a very keen interest for them. . . not only how do they do [return to] travel the world and be able to do their job, but do it in a certified way, where the consumer owns the data, ”she added.
As new variants of the virus spread around the world, The Commons Project says it has seen increasing interest.
“Many countries have closed their borders completely or now have mandatory testing requirements in place for all international travel and all of this has been happening in the last three weeks,” Meyer said.
In the UK, the government has announced that it will start testing its own health passport system, developed by biometrics company iProov and cybersecurity group Mvine. The program, first reported by the Telegraph, will allow thousands of people on two as yet unknown local authorities to upload their vaccine information to an app and help the NHS track who has been vaccinated.
Additional reporting by Anna Gross