The COVID-19 pandemic—and the desire to travel despite the health risks—has prompted the rapid development of several commercial “health passports”, such the IATA Travel Pass and VeriFLY, which document an individual’s vaccine status and COVID-19 test results.
Unfortunately, the rapid development and deployment of health passports has not been a well-coordinated effort. The lack of standardization means there is no guarantee that a health passport will be accepted by all countries or airlines. Not surprisingly, it has also created an opportunity for savvy scammers to produce fraudulent documents.
Early Efforts to Create a Framework
As we reported last October, a coalition of organizations from various sectors recognized the need to step back and establish a framework for vaccination passports and digital health pass systems for pandemic recovery to ensure they are interoperable, privacy-preserving, and user-controlled. This group, the Good Health Pass Collaborative, has since attracted additional members and reports that “Numerous efforts are currently underway to develop digital health credentials – both vaccination and test certificates – for international travel and a variety of other applications.”
Efforts by G7 and EU nations
More recently, the members of the G7 nations, have put their heads together to discuss how to create a coordinated system of health passports. The health ministers from the G7 nations — the United States, Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Japan — believe that there must be some consistency and collaboration among their countries if they are to develop a system of health passports that will be recognizable wherever their citizens travel.
As Canada’s Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told iPolitics, “We are having conversations with the Americans, but also through the G7 and many other international forums, exploring this idea of some form of … evidence of vaccination at international borders.”
The EU Commission currently leads the way, having proposed a standardized COVID-19 health vaccine passport for all EU citizens, in hopes of a safe return to travel within the EU. Last week the Commission released a prototype of its new health passport, dubbed the Green Certificate. This passport would be standardized and uniformly recognized throughout the European Union.
The Green Certificate health passport would be available in two forms:
- A digital version of the passport includes a QR code and indicates which state the traveler is from, as well as their Covid-19 vaccination status.
- A paper version of the passport contains personal details (e.g., name and date of birth) and the passport number that is certified with a QR code, noting the traveler’s COVID-19 vaccination status, any COVID-19 test results, and if they have recovered from COVID-19 or have been a carrier of the disease.
The EU Commission hopes to begin issuing the Green Certificate health passport, validated by the 27 Member States, to EU citizens in mid-June.
Some G7 nations are preparing to follow suit. U.S. President Biden’s administration is working on a system to standardize citizens’ proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the Washington Post reports. Nikkei Asia says that Japan will also begin issuing some form of a travel health certificate.