Why you may need a vaccine passport sooner than you think

The global vaccine rollout is underway, the inoculations have proven effective and, with time, there’s hope the world could become COVID-19 resistant. 

Before that happens you will need to prove your status with a digital immunity passport if you want to travel.

What is it?

It’s a little like an Access All Areas lanyard at a concert, except this one opens up the world (not just the boozy backstage zone). A vaccine passport is digital verification of being immunised and, by extension, a way to avoid quarantine restrictions. The format for this immunity certificate is a QR code stored on a smartphone or possibly printed out.

Many countries already require proof of a negative test for entry, so this will help to expedite travel at international airports. Qantas supremo Alan Joyce has already said that a vaccination would be mandatory to fly on the national carrier.

The leading contenders

There are several digital apps being assessed. One of the frontrunners is called Travel Pass by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Australian government is in talks with IATA with a view to potentially endorse its use. Singapore has already signalled it will adopt it.

Swiss-based nonprofit the Commons Project has its CommonPass, which Qantas trialled on a government repatriation flight from Frankfurt to Darwin. A limited number of United and Lufthansa flights have used it too. The World Health Organization is also working on an e-vaccination certificate.

The vaccine is like an all access pass to a concert – but way better.Source:escape

It’s not a streamlined system – yet

A global passport would be ideal but, in the meantime, nations are experimenting with different options. In the UK, Brits journeying abroad can use their NHS smartphone app.

China and Japan have their own versions, accessed via an app, while the European Union has its Digital Green Certificate, which allows citizens who have proof that they’ve been vaccinated, received a negative test result, or have recovered from COVID-19 to travel across all 27 member states. In the US, it’s a thornier issue, with some states decrying the idea of certification and equating it with government surveillance.

It opens up the velvet rope

In terms of international travel, a vaccinated individual is more likely to be granted entry compared to someone who’s never had the vaccine. But the idea of a vaccine passport may well be extended to daily life. They might become mandatory for admission to crowded venues, sports arenas, gyms, nightclubs and even restaurants.

Citizens of Israel require vaccination proof when visiting hotels and theatres, while Britain is looking at insisting on it for sporting events and pubs. If you required a certificate to get into a pub in Australia, you can be sure that more people would be lining up for their jabs.

Remember this view? We might be seeing it again soon.Source:escape

Print versus digital

Paper versions can be forged, and there have been reports of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards being sold online. Preventing these examples of fraud is a leading argument for digital passports, but anything involving health data and new technology raises red flags about privacy.

Also, not everyone has access to a smartphone and it’s unfair and unethical to discriminate against those people as well as residents of poorer nations. Despite being vulnerable, a paper passport may well be a necessity too.

Our PM likes them for state travel

Few countries have proposed vaccine verification for domestic travel – except Australia, that is. This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would help relax state-based restrictions for fully-vaccinated Australians, but state leaders including Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian view the subject rather differently.

“The vaccine is our way of dealing with international borders,” said Berejiklian. “There is no basis for states closing borders to other states.”

ScoMo approves this message. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesSource:escape

So many more questions

If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that the pandemic is ever-changing. Once vaccine passports are issued, will they come with an expiry date? As new virus variants emerge, will we need booster shots? How will these be reflected in the digital passport? And will the slew of different software systems ever be compatible? Clearly, there are many knots to be worked out. But we’re ready to take this big step forward.

See also:

  • Covid has changed wine tasting, and it's a good thing
  • Covid travel: Can the airline industry survive coronavirus?
  • Huge Covid perk to end soon
  • Could Covid be the cure for the worst excesses of tourism?

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