Get Ready to Show Your Vaccine Passport Everywhere
Originally touted as an innovative means of reducing the reach and duration of pandemic restrictions, health passports have moved beyond speculation to reality with the recent debut of several versions of such credentials. But after a year of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and surveillance justified on public health grounds, it’s likely that, rather than live up their liberating promise, health passports will become just another bureaucratic hurdle for people trying to go about their lives. For better or worse, though, the new credentials look destined to be part of the post-COVID-19 world.
“The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as ‘vaccine passports’ — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen,” The Washington Post reported over the weekend.
The federal government is something of a johnny-come-lately to a phenomenon already in motion.
“IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travelers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccines,” according to the International Air Transport Association. “By the middle of March 2021, a total of 17 airlines had signed up to trial IATA Travel Pass. Singapore Airlines was the first airline to launch a full pilot on March 15 on the Singapore-London route, followed by Qatar Airways on March 18.”
IATA’s Travel Pass is a leading contender among a host of competing credentials sponsored by governments and private entities and intended to demonstrate to authorities with a renewed fear of contagion that the bearer poses minimal risk. IATA’s digital credential (with paper alternatives available) offers information on destinations’ testing and vaccine requirements, connects travelers with their test and vaccination certificates and, by verifying and storing those certificates, acts as a “digital passport” for health purposes.
IBM’s blockchain-based Digital Health Pass offers similar capabilities and is customizable for organizations that have different requirements for travel and access to facilities. “[T]he solution is designed to enable organizations to verify health credentials for employees, customers and visitors entering their site based on criteria specified by the organization,” the company says.
The European Union is developing its own Digital Green Certificate that will serve as proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from the disease and accordingly gained immunity. “The Digital
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