In a thrust to restart the international travel industry, China released the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine passport, which shows a user’s vaccination status, recent coronavirus test results and antibody test results, according to reports.
It is the first country in the world to take this path. This was announced on Sunday by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The aim is to “promote the recovery of the world economy and facilitate cross-border travel,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the minister. The decision came at a time when China is taking forced steps with vaccinations, and plans to get 40% of its population vaccinated by June.
The document will initially only be available to Chinese citizens and can be obtained through the WeChat platform. It is a digital certificate, but it can also be obtained in paper format, containing a QR code.
The code, in addition to allowing to verify the authenticity of the document and to access personal information of the person concerned, gives access to all information regarding his health and immunization status. The code makes it possible to know how long the vaccine has been carried out, in what facility and with how many doses.
Finally, it will also be possible to know the results of the serological tests, antibodies and nucleic acid tests carried out by the person concerned. There are privacy concerns, but the Chinese authorities assure that the system has been designed in such a way as to protect the sensitive information of data subjects. The passport would be inserted into the system based on apps and QR codes, which China has already adopted to track the movements of citizens, regulate their access to transport and verify that they have not come into contact with positive people at Covid.
The passport is not yet mandatory. Its adoption does not for the moment determine a reduction in the restrictions for travel in and out of the country: fourteen days of quarantine must still be observed after arrival. However, the goal is precisely to facilitate international travel to and from China, spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “The pandemic is still with us”, added the spokesman, “but we need to restart the world economy and travel in person, without any more delays”. The spokesperson also said China is willing to make arrangements with other countries to ensure mutual recognition of these types of documents internationally.
The idea of adopting vaccine passports is also gaining momentum in the West. Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have already announced this. The US government is evaluating its feasibility.
In the UK, a petition was presented to parliament. The European Union introduced the so-called “digital green pass” with the European Council of February 26th. The project should start on March 17th and allow citizens of the member states to move freely in the territory of the union.
Airlines are also evaluating the possibility of requesting vaccination certificates from passengers. The airlines that are part of the International Air Transport Association are thinking of creating an app through which to know information on vaccinations and anti-Covid tests carried out by passengers.