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Governments consider digital immunity passports for opening borders

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As workplaces open and international travel resumes during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers and travellers may be required to provide proof of immunity as a condition of entry.

One of the options being considered by many governments is an immunity passport, which collects testing data and enables people to share their immunity status with an employer, airline or airport security.

Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection.

The idea behind the digital “passports” is that they would allow people who have recovered from the coronavirus to signal their immunity and thus move around freely, enabling economies to open up.

Tech Firms Throughout the World Develop Digital Immunity Passports for Government


Estonia has started to test one of the world’s first digital immunity passports, with countries including Chile, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States also said to be exploring the option.


UK-based tech firm VST Enterprises said it has started shipping its digital health passport, Covi-Pass, to companies and governments in more than 15 countries including France, Canada and India.

IDnow, a German technology firm, has said it is in talks with the UK government for immunity passports.

IDnow, is a German identity verification start-up. The talks are aimed at creating a COVID-19 “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from the virus. The plan is to provide a technology that would allow employers to know who is “safe” to return to the office. It is also a technology that is likely to be used by airlines so that it can be sure that passengers are safe to fly.

Another firm that is offering its expertise to help the U.K. government design such a scheme is British startup Onfido, which last month secured $100 million in funding in part to help it develop its health certificate offering.


Chile’s Ministry of Health recently announced that it would issue “release certificates,” in the form of smartphone QR codes, to those who are 14 days clear of Covid-19 symptoms.

Firms are also developing their own systems including Bluetooth-enabled devices, and using artificial intelligence to track employees’ movements and social distancing.


Indonesia is considering an immunity or vaccination certificate, said Djarot Andaru, a researcher at the University of Indonesia who is advising the government on air transport protocol as travel restrictions are lifted.

Despite immunity passport raising concerns, Governments still keen to explore concept

Although the digital immunity passport raises a lot of concerns in areas of data privacy, data security and even if the concept will work effectively, it highlights how much Governments are keen to explore tech options to get their economies moving and to open their borders.

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