Thousands of British citizens who have already received their Covid jabs will be offered a new ‘vaccine passport’ in a new trial set to start this month.
The government-funded trial will enable users to prove whether they have had their first or second vaccine and help the NHS to keep track of the country's vaccination rollout.
The passport would be in digital format and available via a free app which has been created in a joint collaboration between biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity company Mvine.
iProov boss Andrew Bud told the Daily Telegraph: "We're talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS."
Despite the UK’s Department of Health previously insisting that they had ‘no plans’ to introduce a vaccine passport, it was revealed that the Government’s own science and research funding agency Innovate UK, had already pumped over £75,000 into the venture.
The project was initially aimed at demonstrating test results, however, after receiving further funding, bosses at Mvine switched the development to focus more on vaccine passports.
The passports will not only help the NHS to keep track of those who have been vaccinated but may also allow the ailing hospitality and travel industries to get up and running once again after being hit especially hard by the pandemic.
The trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and is expected to be completed by March.
If successful, the new project could be rolled out to millions of people across the country.
The idea of vaccination certificates and passports has already been discussed among European countries with Greek ministers suggesting that a standardised vaccine passport could be used to boost the travel industry.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently wrote to the EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen asking for a “common understanding” and suggesting that “persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel”.
A number of governments including Spain, Belgium, Hungary and Estonia are all thought to have hinted that they would welcome such a scheme, although many people are opposed to the idea citing concerns about privacy and data-sharing.
Denmark, which has already vaccinated 1% of the country’s population has also hinted that it is in the process of creating a COVID-19 passport.
The country’s Ministry of Health and the Elderly recently confirmed that they are working on a “vaccine passport” for Danish citizens, which will soon be available, although it is unclear at this time whether it will be digital or not.
The document would serve as a vaccine passport and allow Danes to travel to countries where vaccination becomes mandatory.
Despite the obvious benefits of such a move, there are many who have slammed the proposals, claiming that they are discriminatory.
Back in November, Alan Joyce, CEO of Australian airline Qantas suggested that those who were not vaccinated would not be able to fly with the carrier.
He said, "We will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft... for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that's a necessity."
Gloria Guevara, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) disagrees and slammed the airline’s decision as “discriminatory”.
She said, “We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel.”
“I totally disagree with the approach from Qantas.
“The common-sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve travelling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated," she said.
Another concern is that the move would discriminate against those who are unable to get vaccinated such as pregnant women, with others fearing that it could keep the unvaccinated under permanent ‘house arrest’.
December 23, 2020