Tech, health firms team up on digital vaccination certificates


People register with digital devices inside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020. Israel plans to vaccinate 70% to 80% of its population by April or May, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Monday, pressing ahead with a program that promises an earlier-than-forecast economic recovery. Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON: A coalition of technology firms and health organisations announced plans on Jan 14 for a digital vaccination certificate, which can be used on smartphones to show evidence of inoculation for Covid-19.

The Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) includes the Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.

The companies said they were working on a way to get digital credentials – which some call a vaccination “passport” – widely recognised, as a way to help people return to work, school, events, and travel.

The new group said it would develop standards for encrypted digital copies of immunisation credentials which can be stored in a digital wallet.

The goal “is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records”, said Paul Meyer of The Commons Project Foundation, a nonprofit group working on the deal.

“Open standards and interoperability are at the heart of VCI’s efforts and we look forward to supporting the World Health Organization and other global stakeholders in implementing and scaling open global standards for health data interoperability.”

The announcement comes amid a global rollout of vaccination, which should continue throughout the year.

The proposal comes amid a lukewarm reception for digital contact tracing by smartphone, and ongoing concerns that devices may be used for government surveillance.

Ken Mayer of the health tech organisation Safe Health said the plan is to create “privacy-preserving health status verification solution” to enable public events to resume. – AFP