Biden Admin Working on ‘Scannable' Vaccine Passports
Developers are also working on apps that would 'adjust for the spread of variants'
The Biden administration is working on COVID-19 vaccine passports for Americans to use as proof of vaccination via a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass, according to reports.
The news comes as some companies signaled they would require 'vaccination proof' for people to enter their businesses.
The Washington Post reported:
“The administration’s initiative has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort."
“The White House this month took on a bigger role coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients, with a goal of announcing updates in coming days.”
The digital version of the vaccine passport would be accessible from smartphone apps and “could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass.”
People should also have the option to print out the passport.
But due to data and privacy, such passports could face “significant hurdles."
“One of the most significant hurdles facing federal officials: the sheer number of passport initiatives underway, with the Biden administration this month identifying at least 17,” the Post added.
“Those initiatives — such as a World Health Organization-led global effort and a digital pass devised by IBM that is being tested in New York state — are rapidly moving forward, even as the White House deliberates about how best to track the shots and avoid the perception of a government mandate to be vaccinated.”
Developers are also working on apps that would “adjust for the spread of variants” while monitoring “how booster shots would be tracked.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushing for a global tracking system using QR codes for months.
“The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, argues that using smartphone-based verification to access public places would create a two-tiered system that bars people who can’t work, shop or attend school because they don’t have a cell phone or access to testing,” Politico reported.
“There also are privacy considerations. Requiring people to store test and vaccination results in digital format could expose them to the kind of data breaches that have proliferated during the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, several legislatures have introduced bills to “prevent discrimination for people with religious objections or health conditions that might prevent them from getting immunized.”
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the rollout of a new Government pilot program requiring residents of New York to show a COVID-19 passport in order to enter businesses.
The plan is to test the “Excelsior Pass,” which will use technology to confirm if a person is vaccinated or has had a recent negative COVID-19 test.
“We’re doing everything we can to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible, as quickly as possible, while keeping the infection rate down and re-energizing our economy in a safe, smart way,” Cuomo said at the time.
“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” he added.
Meanwhile, in Europe, European Union leaders called for a "standardized" passport to be introduced to prove whether the holder has been vaccinated for COVID-19.
The document will include a certificate that only allows those who have received an up-to-date vaccine to "be free to travel."