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Vietnam Distributes Over 1 Million COVID-19 E-Passports

As of 20 April, over one million Vietnamese people had received a COVID-19 electronic passport. This is six days after the Ministry of Health (MoH) started to issue the certification through the ‘So suc khoe dien tu’ mobile application and the PC-COVID application. According to the Vice Director of the Medical Data Centre, which is run under the MoH’s Department of Information Technology, the electronic vaccine passports are valid within 12 months from the issuance date. When it expires, a new QR code will be automatically generated.

The passports, which meet the standards of the World Health Organisation and the European Union, are being used in 62 countries and more will be added to the list in the time to come. As information about vaccinated people is in the national vaccination system, citizens are not required to take any further procedures to receive the e-passport. As per a press release, the MoH has asked its agencies and medical service suppliers of ministries and sectors to review and verify information of vaccinated people and make necessary adjustments before 30 April, ensuring the accuracy of the COVID-19 vaccination data.

Meanwhile, localities are requested to complete this work before 5 May. Leaders of vaccination units will bear the responsibility for any wrong COVID-19 vaccination information of the people, affecting the issuance of vaccine passports serving their international travelling and trading activities, the release added.

By providing a secure and easy-to-use digital mechanism to verify vaccination statuses, governments can accelerate the re-opening of the economy and build a secure and trusted foundation for further digital healthcare initiatives in the future. Last year, the United States announced it would enhance the security of digital passports. This was particularly important after the lack of security and privacy associated with contact tracing apps led to much lower adoption than governments had wanted.

The key risks jurisdictions face with digital passports include the spoofing of records and leaking of private information. Frictionless adoption by citizens and venues, therefore, requires adhering to security and privacy best practices. The government said it would encrypt all data stored on the backend server as well as data in transit to and from the mobile clients.

Several other countries have recently expressed interest in launching e-passports. Earlier this month, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs (MoS) announced the government would issue e-passports to its citizens. The e-passport will be a combined paper and electronic passport, with an embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip and antenna inserted as an inlay in the back cover. The passport’s critical information will be printed on its data page as well as stored in the chip. The characteristics of the document and the chip are specified in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s document 9303, as per reports. A pilot version of the e-passports is currently being tested, and manufacturing and issuance will start after the technical ecosystem and infrastructure has been secured.

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