Vaccine Passport - Significance, Functioning, Challenges & More

Vaccine Passport Introduction

As the coronavirus vaccination programme is in its full swing all around the world, humankind has started to feel optimistic and hopeful that the global crisis of COVID-19 is finally coming to an end. Having said that, it is also necessary to understand that a vaccine will not alleviate the pandemic's impact on our lives in a single night and so we'll have to wait first for a few months for approved vaccines to get to the majority of people globally.

Sooner or later, the virus' impact will certainly mitigate but it won't swear off the world right this instant. From here on out, when various vaccines for treating coronavirus have now been approved, conversations have now turned into how we will navigate through our daily grind as the period of coronavirus draws to a close and initiates to restore a sense of normalcy.

Until recently the pandemic has severely hampered the privilege to freely move and passengers travelling across country borders have come across prolonged and sluggish enforced quarantine periods, either on reaching at their destination or on their way back to home, or both. When all is said and done, it is desired that the mass vaccination programmes will, at long last, dwindle these restrictions but at the same time providing, the choice of whether to vaccinate or not also provides either a green flag to freedom or prolonging the misery of restrictions and house arrest.

What’s the idea behind “Vaccine Passport”?

Till then, there is an idea of “vaccine passport” which would be alike to the upgraded version of the what we call yellow card, or International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, in a more formalized manner, which is a WHO-approved booklet putting on record one’s past immunizations. In the last few days, Denmark’s government announced that in the upcoming couple of months, it will pile out a digital passport that will enable residents to show as evidence that they have been vaccinated. It is one of the first countries to launch its own coronavirus vaccine passport. The passport bestows the freedom to the vaccinated citizens to navigate across the country borders. Also, besides Denmark, Sweden has already bonded together with the alliance of countries preparing to present their own digital vaccine passport.

How does the vaccine passport work?

Allegedly, residents who have received vaccination shots against the Coronavirus can download and get the certificate from an official government website and save it on the mobile phone. Simply put, a vaccine passport basically is not a material passport as the name suggests, but it is an application. People will be able to download the application on their smartphones and will need to register specifics of their most recent COVID-19 test result, inoculation information, and temperature scans. With reference to the registered details, the application will define whether an individual is safe and sound to travel, much similar to the contact-tracing applications that became popular the latter year.

Few of the versions of vaccine passports are also believed to enable people to exhibit that they have tested negative for the deadly virus, and thus can travel without a hitch. Various airlines, nonprofits and technology companies, and different industry groups are working on a version of vaccine passport which can be easily pulled up in one’s mobile phone as an application or part of a digital wallet.

Why would one need a vaccine passport?

Since more and more people are getting immunized or inoculated, all across the world, during the worldwide coronavirus vaccination programme, there will perhaps be intents of social life and public affairs in which only citizens who have received vaccination shots are only authorized to partake. With a view to travel cross-border, various health authorities and governments will need to verify if an individual has been vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. Most of the nations are already necessitating evidence of a negative test for further entry. Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, said that such health passes or passports could be extremely helpful to resume and revive the tourism industry, worldwide.

What are the complexities in developing vaccine passports?

As per Jenny Wanger, director of programs at the Linux Foundation, “There are ways this could be done right or done terribly wrong and the wrong ways could lead us to a techno dystopia,” She believes that it is extremely essential to make the tech-building aspect of digital vaccine passport applications be executed in the candid and not under the control of any specific company or government.

The technology should be developed in an open source and should be approachable by the technical expertise, regardless of where they are residing or what their identity is. The matter of concern is that, in a world where over a billion people don't have the potential to authenticate their identity owing to the failure of providing their birth certificates, driving licenses, passports, national identification cards, or digital documents, showing vaccination status may aggravate risk and inequality, leaving numerous people behind. In addition, for people without smartphones, the physical documents will be accepted except from the fact that the paper evidence also needs to be standardized. Moreover, there are also concerns regarding privacy and data breaching.

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