The Washington Post reports the Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as “vaccine passports” — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is participating in the WHO’s effort to create “digital vaccination certificates,” also is preparing to help advise on the passport rollout.
Standards in Early Stages of Development
An administration official told CNN on Monday the standards are in the early stages of development but that the ultimate product should be free, private, and safe from duplications and forgeries.
CNN reports part of ensuring wide usage for vaccine passports is accounting for the large subset of the global population that still doesn’t use or have access to smartphones. A few companies within the Covid-19 Credentials Initiative are also developing a smart card that strikes a middle ground between the traditional paper vaccine certificates and an online version that’s easier to store and reproduce.
The Vaccination Credential Initiative — which includes IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, Mayo Clinic, and the Commons Project, a nonprofit with a vaccine passport app currently working with some airlines — is playing a key role in developing U.S. standards and guidelines for digital health passes, including its approach to data privacy.
New York State Launches App
New York on Friday launched an app that lets people prove they have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus or have recently tested negative, according to Business Insider.
The “Excelsior Pass” will let people go to weddings, sports arenas, and entertainment venues that host more people than the state’s social gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, the state said in a press release.
The 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden in New York City and the 17,500-seat Times Union Center in Albany have already announced they will use the app in coming weeks.
New York is the first state to offer a digital-vaccination passport app. It held two pilot tests and a beta test of the pass over the past two weeks.
The app, which was developed with IBM, works like an airline boarding pass on a smartphone, and is available for iPhone and Android users. Individuals can store the pass on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app, or print it out.
EU Announces Vaccine Passport Plans
This month, the EU announced its vaccination passport plans.
The Associated Press says judging from initial documentation, the system is meant to be decentralized, relying on health authorities to issue certificates that store only necessary information. Notably, it allows for paper and app-based certificates.
In either case, verification would be based on digital signatures, and all health data would remain with the issuing authority or member state.
Israel Rolls Out App
Israel has rolled out its “green pass” app, which verifies that a person has been vaccinated or has recovered from COVID-19, but the system has raised privacy and security concerns. Several other countries have also launched vaccination passport apps for internal use, including China and Saudi Arabia.
Common Pass App
The CommonPass app being built by an international nonprofit organization appears to be the most developed vaccination passport app. It currently documents test results.
However, while its makers claim that records will be stored only locally on users’ devices, the app is closed source, and the only documentation is a superficial FAQ.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story and used information republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.)