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Covid-19 Vaccine Passport: What It Is And Do You Need One?

By Michael Bamidele 28 June 2021   |   9:53 am

Covid-19 Vaccine Passport: What It Is And Do You Need One?

Take me back to the good old days when one could just book a flight and travel almost anywhere in the world on a whim.

Days before the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crippled virtually every industry and all spheres of human life.

The good old days when one could have breakfast in Lagos and set off for a meeting in London or vacation in the Bahamas before the pandemic made travelling and tourism a nightmare.

As the pandemic wore on, the governments of various countries, in a bid to combat the deadly virus, introduced a number of measures, the most popular of which was the lockdown and travel restrictions which further affected international travel and tourism.

Now, with the accelerating rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and the relaxation of many travel restrictions, we are beginning to see, little by little, a return to international travel and tourism.

But this is not without challenges as individuals need to prove their vaccine or Covid-19 status.

The Covid-19 Vaccine Passport
Currently, there is no widespread use of a “Covid-19 vaccine passport” on a cross-border basis. But the idea of one is starting to take shape in reality as many countries require proof of vaccination for international travel.

The proposed Covid-19 Vaccine Passport would be a health passport, or health pass, which generally refers to documents – in paper or digital format – that certifies a person is unlikely to either catch or spread the Covid-19.

The certificates would attest one of three things: that the holder has been vaccinated, has tested negative for the virus, or has recovered from it.

At the moment, save for the basics since there are no agreed-upon standards for what the Covid-19 passport should entail or how it should be. As a result, many governments, regional heads and even some airlines are scampering to create what works best for them:

Europe
As of July 1, the European Union would start issuing the European Union Digital COVID certificates (EUDCC).

The vaccine passport (formally known as the EU Digital Green Certificate) provides digital proof of whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from the virus.

Member states are obliged to start issuing the first certificates within six weeks of 1 July, when the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation enters into application. According to the European Commission, the member states, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy have all issued and/or verified at least one certificate.

Asia
In Asia, Thailand, China, South Korea, and Japan, among others, are using digital health certificates to track users’ vaccination and coronavirus test history for international travel.

Concerns
Despite the intended goodwill, the Covid-19 vaccine passport is still a controversial issue in many quarters.

Digital health certificates have drummed up concerns over how secure one’s data will be with third-party apps communicating with databases containing sensitive health information.

And to make matters worse, the World Health Organization said it is against requiring proof of a vaccine to enter another country “given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution.”

Whatever the case may be, as far as international travel is concerned, vaccine passports are viewed as the key to the resumption of tourism as more countries are opening up their borders for vaccinated travellers.

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