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Tuesday, March 09, 2021

From Denmark to Israel: The countries experimenting with Covid passports

With international travel taking a major hit worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, several countries have experimented with 'coronavirus immunity passports'.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
February 5, 2021 8:45:36 am
US travel restrictions, US Europe travel restrictions, Trump on travel restrictions, Biden travel restrictions, Indian ExpressPassengers queue for check-in at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, England, south of London. The United States will require airline passengers from Britain to get a negative Covid-19 test before their flight. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

In a bid to ease travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, Denmark has announced a new ‘digital corona passport’ that will show whether people have been vaccinated against the deadly disease. The Danish government has said that the passport will be ready for use in the next three to four months, AP reported.

“It is absolutely crucial for us to be able to restart Danish society so that companies can get back on track. Many Danish companies are global companies with the whole world as a market,” Finance Minister Morten Boedskov said in a press conference. The main purpose of the passport will be to help reopen society and restart international travel.

“It will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated,” Boedskol explained, according to an AP report. Before the end of February, citizens will first be required to check the Danish health ministry’s website to confirm whether they have been vaccinated.

The Danish government collaborated with representatives of the Confederation of Danish Industries, which represents Denmark’s major companies, and the Danish Chamber of Commerce to develop the novel passport.

But Denmark is not the first country to toy with the idea of a digital health passport. With international travel taking a major hit worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, several countries have experimented with the novel concept.

Here are some countries that have experimented with coronavirus passports

Estonia

Last year, Estonia announced that it was testing a “digital immunity passport” to keep tabs on who had recovered from Covid-19 and gained immunity, Reuters reported. It was created by a team that included the founders of global tech startups Transferwise and Bolt. The main purpose of the proposed digital passport was to facilitate a safe return to workplaces after the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

But at the time, the World Health Organisation had warned governments against issuing such passports as little was know about the disease and for how long a person would be immune to the virus after their recovery.

Israel

Earlier this year, Israel’s Ministry of Health announced that it would launch a Covid immunity passport, known as the ‘green booklet’, which will be given to people who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

With the new ‘green booklet’, a vaccinated individual will have significant freedoms from Covid safety protocols. They will no longer have to go into isolation after travelling to a Covid “red zone”, or a country with a high infection rate. They will also be exempted from quarantining if they were to come in contact with an infected person.

The country has been praised for deploying one of the world’s fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaigns. Israel aims to vaccinate at least 5.2 million of its 9 million citizens by March.

Chile

In April last year, the Chilean government announced it would issue certificates to people who have recovered from Covid-19. While the document is not officially an immunity passport, the government faced considerable backlash since the WHO had issued a warning against such certificates.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the WHO said in a statement. The health authority said that ‘immunity certificates’ were potentially harmful as they could create a false sense of security and lead to people ignoring health and safety protocol.

Chile’s Deputy Health Minister Paul Daza said that the documents would be used to help people return to work safely, BBC reported.

UK

While the UK is yet to introduce a Covid passport, the government is funding at least eight firms to develop such a product, the Sunday Telegraph reported. In fact, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has pushed for immunity passports to help the country restart international travel.

But senior Minister Michael Gove has said that the country has no immediate plans to introduce digital passports for people who have received the vaccine any time soon.


International Air Transport Association (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a global aviation body, will soon launch its digital travel pass, which will enable international travellers to store information about their health, travel, Covid diagnosis and vaccination status.

The digital pass, which can be saved on your phone as a mobile app, is being adopted by a number of international airlines including Etihad Airways and Emirates.

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