With the rise in the number of people taking the vaccine, it is time for a review system to prove their inoculation when they want to cross international borders. The so-called “vaccine passports” have been developed over the past year and is starting to go through various trials and beta tests ever since. Several vaccines have been developed, like the Moderna Vaccine and the Oxford Vaccine, and the vaccine passports need to register them for considerable verification. Travelers will use the passports to supplement their actual national passport and other border-crossing documents when they clear customs and immigration barriers. The objective is to have your vaccination documents so that it is acceptable and understood across different languages making vaccine passport the ultimate solution.
Although you might think it to be a farfetched issue, the Australian airlines Qantas is already talking about vaccination proofs for all its passengers, domestic and international, in the foreseeable future.
The most challenging part of vaccine passports is that they can have a variety of physical forms. The vaccine passport can be a physical card or a mobile application according to the convenience of the government of various nations. The proof of vaccination can be a QR code or a paper sticker (something that would be difficult to forge).
For this post, we will be focusing on the digital format of the vaccine passport. It is hopefully less likely for people to lose it and can also be a part of the traveler’s existing travel records.
Things to consider while developing vaccine passports
We need to consider several issues when developing vaccine passports like:
End-To-End Data Protection
The cards need encryption, and it is an obvious requirement. The issue is how to encrypt the data and the places where the data can be compromised. Developers need to consider all these details when designing and executing the development of these documents.
The best way to store the data is not to send the data anywhere and save the information on the user’s smartphone.
Different Vaccines Different Passports?
Corona vaccine update today is that there is more than one type of vaccine. Companies have developed over 200 vaccines worldwide, and they have also deployed more than a handful of these vaccines. Putting together a database with all the information is a challenge. Especially so, when it comes to maintaining the accuracy and security across many different systems that will be using the data.
One of the most annoying issues is the adjustment of the information according to new data. With more vaccines and virus mutation coming up, keeping track of all the information is challenging. Moreover, synchronizing all health departments and border crossing is an important requirement.
It is essential to connect the vaccination centers to provide a secure network to send results and certify the public. The ideal application would be to create a pass or fail gradation system. This would avoid interpreting medical information for people not related to medicine.
One main question that arises with developing an application for a vaccine passport is whether a new app will be created or integrate the information into contactless applications already existing that can keep track of travel details simultaneously. For people without smartphones, the idea is to print an encrypted QR code that customs can scan.
Risks related to Cyber-attacks
One of the main issues that need proper addressing is, What if something goes wrong?
For instance, you arrive at your destination country’s custom barrier and present your vaccination verification application. What happens in case your application for some reason shows that you are missing your vaccine? Whom do you call? What can we do to resolve this issue?
This is a serious possibility and could happen to anybody. The details of the application development require special attention in terms of security.
We have already seen that the vaccine supply chain is a very tempting target for cyber-attacks. North Korean hackers have targeted several pharma companies from the US, UK, and South Korea over the past year. Moreover, the logistics vendors shipping the vaccines from the manufacturers and suppliers have received several emails since September. The European Medicines Agency evaluates and approves drugs and vaccines for the European distribution, was also a known target for continuous cyber-attacks.
Covid-19 latest vaccine update has provided us with a database of over 200 vaccines tested and a handful already deployed. Here are some of the most likely companies who have tried to integrate the data and provided designs and beta test:
The most common program in terms of vaccine passport is called CommonPass. It is an open-source project and is being co-sponsored by the World Economic Forum and the Rockefeller Foundation. This initiative aims to ensure that everyone who gets the vaccine will get digital proof and have a verifiable, and universally recognized digital record of the immunization.
According to their website, users are free to share only their vaccination records in the application without revealing any other medical data.
IATA Travel Pass
The International Air Transport Association has taken the second initiative in developing a vaccine passport called IATA Travel Pass. This initiative aims to include Covid-19 vaccination records as part of the previous effort of digitalizing passport details through the Timatic and Travel Pass application.
For several years, the application has been in place and Timatic was already used during the Ebola outbreak by airlines to verify travel documents. The advantage of this initiative is that it comes in various versions. They come as a smartphone application, an XML solution for web apps, and various mainframe applications.
The International Chamber of Commerce and International SOS is a private medical and security provider who made the third effort. They tried to develop a vaccine passport and named it AOKpass. It was put to the test on several Singapore Airlines flights and can integrate with IATA’s Timatic application. The plan is to integrate or merge it with the IATA Travel Pass application in the long run.
Covid-19 vaccine passports are clearly in the development stage and will gradually roll out across the world. Several aspects require a lot of testing, adapting, and functionality checks before fully functional and usable for the people flawlessly.