Countries around the globe are turning to digital vaccine passports to allow people to travel and enter into their borders. Different countries, including China, France, the UK, the US, the EU, and Australia, have introduced different versions of COVID-19 digital vaccine passports and certificates to allow tourists and citizens to visit different attractions and events.
But as more countries introduce these certificates, the question remains: how will vaccine passwords for global travel work?
Countries like the US rolled out various contact-tracing applications in the wake of the pandemic as a measure to track infected people. In addition to these applications, there are digital certificates for proof of vaccination. These serve as an additional measure to control the spread of the virus and its variants across borders.
Countries like the UK have adopted the NHS app to allow their citizens to prove their vaccinated status when traveling abroad. Even the WHO has consulted in developing a Smart Vaccination Certificate. This is despite its discouraging requiring digital vaccine certificates for international travel.
In expressing its concerns, the WHO has cited the likelihood of alienating certain groups of travelers and countries. Various groups have also raised privacy concerns with these passports. One concern is that cyber criminals are likely to target them due to the personal information contained therein.
Countries like the UK have adopted a password-protected system to ensure that the vaccine passport does not disclose any other health records except proof of vaccination or negative test results.
COVID-19 vaccination certificates rely on smartphones. In the case of EU’s COVID-19 Travel Pass, the vaccine certificate contains a QR code. The destination country scans the QR code to verify the traveler’s vaccination status.
These vaccine passports will likely to work together with various travel apps that already exist to allow travelers to verify their COVID-19 status before traveling.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has the IATA Travel Pass, which allows travelers to verify their COVID-19 results at their destination country. IATA Travel Pass adopters include airlines such as Qantas, Emirates, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Japan airlines. A rival app, the CommonPass, has adopters such as airlines Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, and United.
In recent months, RKN Global has drawn attention to the phenomenon of fake Coronavirus certificates. Authorities have arrested travelers using or selling fake coronavirus result certificates. Media outlets have interviewed others, who have openly admitted their activities.
With this in mind, the question of travelers faking their vaccination passports arises. But digital vaccine certificates have the potential to combat fakes and counterfeits.
In countries like the US, citizens increasingly support the use of digital or print COVID-19 vaccine passports for domestic and international travel. Part of this may be attributable to the surge of the Delta variant through different parts of the world.
Stakeholders in the tourism industry have also supported the use of vaccine passports for international travel.
Vaccine passports present a ray of hope for the tourism industry as well as travelers moving from country to country for business or pleasure. With these certificates, travelers can prove their vaccination status and avoid mandatory quarantine.