Home Technology Big tech companies working on a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport

Big tech companies working on a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport

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With the world ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, thinking about global travel currently feels like a distant dream. But there will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when we will be able to traverse the globe once again looking for wild adventures in exotic locations. Or to see some of the world’s greatest tourist attractions while spending days in queues and getting overcharged for every little thing you do. Yay, tourism.

When the world does open up again for travel, it’s not just going to be the strength (or lack thereof) of your South African passport that will help determine where you go to, but also whether you have been vaccinated against the virus or not.

And to make the idea of a vaccine passport a reality, several big tech companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic Systems, and the Mayo Clinic are all part of a Vaccination Credential Initiative (VIC) which is looking to develop tech standards that can be stored in some form of digital record as proof that a person has been vaccinated.

The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy

The concept behind the initiative is for people to receive a QR code that can be stored on their phones when they get vaccinated, which can then be scanned at the different border controls to verify that a person isn’t lying on their forms about being innoculated.

These QR codes will ultimately contain details of the person and when they were vaccinated all within its complex algorithms that generate the code so that it cannot be manipulated easily. The idea behind using the QR code system will also work for people who don’t have smartphones as they will also be able to carry around a print-out that can be scanned and verified.  

The standard for this still needs to be set out and it’s not clear how the companies will ensure wide adoption of this technology. The companies involved are not expected to profit from the idea though, so as to help with making implementation faster and easier.

Even if the expenses are kept low, it’s likely it will still take a fair amount of time to get adopted globally or even at all, plus implemented where necessary and so continued Covid-19 testing may be the only measure for now to ensure relatively Covid-free travel.

Although even this testing is not guaranteed to solve problems entirely.

Last Updated: January 20, 2021

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