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The World Eyes ‘Health Passports’


From digital certificates to “health passports”, countries and airlines across the globe are hoping to relaunch travel by letting people prove their Covid-free status. But with patchy vaccine access around the world and mounting concerns over data privacy, questions are swirling about how the measures will work in practice.

Image - People present their coronavirus vaccination certificate or 'green badge' at the entrance of a music concert in Tel Aviv, 24 February 2021.

Abir Sultan/EPA/EFE via Euractive news


Most programmes under development are geared towards facilitating travel and come in the form of smartphone apps with varying criteria for a clean bill of health. Vaccine passports, for example, are a popular way to approach proof of immunity with jab rollouts underway across the globe. There are also apps that accept positive antibody tests as proof of immunity for those who have had the virus and recovered.


French President Emmanuel Macron recently suggested yet another, more localised form of Covid-free permission slip: the so-called “health pass”.

This certification would only be valid within France’s borders but would allow a fully vaccinated person to, for example, eat in restaurants and attend certain events.


But the World Health Organization has warned that there is no evidence to show that recovered Covid sufferers with antibodies are protected from a second infection.


This week China launched a digital health certificate for its 1.3 billion citizens that shows the holder’s vaccine status and virus test results.


Greece and Cyprus have vaccination passports specifically for travel to and from Israel, which has fully vaccinated 44 percent of its population.


Denmark and Sweden are also looking to launch health passports soon, with the European Union promising to propose a “green pass” to ease movement within the entire Union despite resistance from France and Germany.