Use of Vaccine Passports for International Travel

 Saturday, June 5, 2021 


The United Kingdom plans to use a National Health Service phone applications as its COVID-19 ‘vaccine passport’ certificate that will assist its inhabitants to travel internationally this summer, fuelling the global debate over the use of certificates to reopen the economy.

France became the first European Union country to trial an application-based travel pass that stores negative COVID-19 test results and will soon allow vaccination certificates on flights to Corsica and its overseas territories. Thailand has laid out plans to adopt a vaccine passport to allow travel to other countries.

The proponents say identifying people who are immune to the COVID-19 or at lower risk of spreading it could help open up travel and other services. But, critics have raised questions about privacy, health and discrimination.

Health Passports

It is a document – in paper or digital format – that certify a person is unlikely to either catch or spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

With the rise of COVID-19, the vaccine certificates would attest one of three things: that the holder has been vaccinated, has tested negative for the virus or has recovered from it.

Their use could allow governments to lift some pandemic-induced restrictions, allowing people to travel in planes, attend concerts, go to work or dine out, supporters say.  

Use of Health Passport

There are different health passes have been trialled by governments and most of the companies around the world in recent months. The technology giants including Microsoft Corp , Oracle Corp and healthcare companies Cigna Corp and Mayo Clinic in January become part of a coalition pushing for digital records of people who get vaccinated against COVID-19. The project, called Vaccination Credential Initiative, aims to help people get encrypted digital copies of their immunization records stored in a digital wallet of their choice.

Bahrain launched a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport in February, one of the first countries to do so. Sweden plans to launch a vaccine passport by summer. Last October, Estonia and the World Health Organization started a pilot for a digital vaccine certificate. Lithuania said it would roll out national digital COVID-19 immunity certificates by early May to allow people to bypass restrictions on some activities including dining indoors, attending sporting events and holding large parties.

Meanwhile, China has put in place an app-based health code system that uses travel and medical data to give people a red, yellow or green rating indicating the likelihood of them having the virus – and whether or not they can walk around freely. In Israel, anyone vaccinated or having recovered from COVID-19 with presumed immunity is issued with health ministry “Green Pass” certificates that grant access to various leisure venues.

Denmark has allowed some services including hairdressers and spas to reopen upon presentation of a “corona-passport” showing whether the holder has been vaccinated, has previously been infected or has taken a test within the last 72 hours. And in India, everyone who has been vaccinated will get a QR code-based electronic certificate.


Health passes have raised a number of public health and privacy concerns.The legal and health experts have warned that so-called immunity passports, which would allow greater freedom to those who have recovered from the virus, could push people to try to catch the disease in the hopes of making themselves immune.The passports’ scientific grounding has also been called into question, as it is still not clear whether people who recover from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection – or, if they are, for how long.

Passes based on negative test results have a short shelf life, as people can catch the virus any time after taking the test, said Alexandra Phelan, an infectious disease expert at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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