Vaccination “passports” might soon be required for overseas travel

January 21, 2021

Microsoft is backing this initiative, which Etihad airlines is already piloting. 

Travellers might soon be required to present a “health passport” before travelling overseas. This kind of passport is a new idea that aims to ensure that anyone who travels to other countries has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle, some of the biggest tech companies in the world, have teamed up with medical companies to develop a robust version of the proposed health passport. They want to produce an app that will give people a digital certificate once they have been vaccinated. This certification can then be displayed at airports before boarding a plane.

The tech pioneers have emphasised that they want to build a very secure platform, seeing as vaccines are medical records – some of the most personal information people keep. For those who do not have smartphones, they want to create a printed QR-based system. They argue that their digital system will be superior, because ordinary vaccine cards can be copied, leading to cases of fraudulent certificates.

Airlines like Emirates have indicated that they are first in line to try this platform once it is ready for consumers. Etihad Airlines is already piloting a version of the platform, according to reports.

It seems that eventually, these passports will be used to allow people access to events and some are saying employers might also require these certificates when hiring new staff. 

Experts have warned that it might be too soon to start rolling out a health passport system. The main reason being that many people are restricted from getting vaccines at the moment. In South Africa, for instance, the average person will only get vaccinated in the final phase of the country’s vaccine drive.

The World Health Organisation has also issued a condemning statement on the matter. They cited the fact that the vaccine’s actual success rate in reducing transmission is, at this stage, still too unknown. They agreed that it is problematic that not all people have access to the jabs yet. The WHO fear that a two-tiered society might start to form, where those who have health passports are superior to those who do not. They have urged countries not to adopt policies that will require health passports for international travellers just yet.