Covid-19 immunity passport tests to begin in UK

A Covid-19 immunity and vaccination passport developed by two UK firms and backed by Innovate UK has entered the live testing phase

Live tests of a Covid-19 immunity and vaccination passport are beginning in the UK, with the system’s backers saying their technology enables coronavirus test results or vaccination status to be registered and proved without disclosing their identity and without needed extensive and costly new back-end infrastructure.

The system, jointly developed by two UK firms, Mvine and iProov, and backed by Innovate UK – which funded the development of a working prototype – the Covid-19 passport will be tested by directors of public health across the UK, with the aim of completing two trials before the end of March 2021. The firms said this should give the health services the confidence to then deploy the system at scale to benefit citizens.

“Without the need for an extensive new infrastructure, the directors for public health will learn how our innovation is used to promote public health and protect citizen privacy,” said Mvine director Frank Joshi.

“Unlike some other digital solutions for Covid-19, this technology reduces the burden on frontline services and cost-effectively assures a secure and safe way to enable the return to work, return to school and return to the kind of life that people want to lead.”

IProov CEO Andrew Bud added: “Ensuring consumer trust, security and privacy is essential to the success of projects in this space. IProov enables all three.

“Our genuine presence assurance technology secures the link between the citizen and Mvine’s test status solution in this project, which we think can make an important contribution to forming the nation’s response to the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

The consortium is betting that by having made their technology compatible with existing NHS infrastructure, it will be able to meet the specific local needs of various NHS organisations up and down the UK, while meeting overarching national requirements to be met as well.

They said this level of flexibility ensured that areas in different tiers – should the controversial tier system be kept in place – or at different levels of vaccine roll-out can set and enforce the most appropriate policies for their specific situations.

The partners said their technology would ultimately make it possible to “prove” your Covid-19 status and for clinical staff to check that your status is accurate by assuring your test result or vaccination status is linked to you and nobody else.

Mvine and iProov claim that this process does not require the identification of individuals, and that no identity data will be captured or stored, giving users the confidence they can prove their Covid-19 status without giving up any personally identifiable information. It can be used on- or offline.

This will be accomplished using an unspecified “mathematical model” of the user’s face to associate with the reference number of the test pack or vaccination the user receives.

The project is the fruit of a government-backed funding programme – initially announced in April 2020 during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and later expanded in its financial scope – to develop new technology-enabled ways to ensure the continuation (or resumption) of normal life.

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