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Sweden and Denmark have announced plans to develop digital certificates to prove that citizens have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Countries across Europe are working on plans to make it easier for people that have been vaccinated to prove it. This will enable economies, stalled by the restrictions brought in to reduce the spread of Covid-19, to restart.
The Nordic countries want to restart travel and possibly more, such as allowing people to attend events, with digital vaccine passports – as they are often known – seen as a way of enabling this safely.
Sweden hopes to have the digital certificates in place by June. Its minister for digital development, Anders Ygeman, said: “With a digital vaccine certificate, it will be quick and easy to prove a completed vaccination.”
A day earlier, Nordic neighbour Denmark announced a similar plan, and said the certificates could “contribute to a gradual, sound and appropriate reopening of Denmark”.
“It is absolutely crucial, for us to be able to restart Danish society, that companies can get back on track,” said acting finance minister Morten Bodskov. “[The certificate] will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated.” The mobile phone is the perfect medium because most people carry mobile phones when on the move.
With borders closed and global travel still off the agenda, vaccine passports could become a critical component of the hoped-for return to normal life – but their use must be balanced with user privacy.
In January, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, supported the idea of vaccine certificate. “Whether that gives a priority or access to certain goods, this is a political and legal decision that has to be discussed on the European level,” she said.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said the matter of vaccine certificates had been “discussed at the last European council meeting between the heads of state and government, and it was concluded that the work on a standardised, interoperable form of proof of vaccination for medical purposes should continue”.
A new coalition of health and technology industry bodies – including Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce – was recently established to develop a standardised model for organisations administering Covid-19 vaccinations to make credentials available in an “accessible, interoperable and digital” format.
The Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), as it is known, said vaccination record systems currently in use do not readily support convenient access, control and sharing of verifiable vaccination records.
The VCI said it is “committed to empowering individuals with digital access to their vaccination records based on open, interoperable standards”.
“The goal of the VCI is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school and life, while protecting their data privacy,” said Paul Meyer, CEO of VCI and member of the Commons Project Foundation.
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