Since early 2020, international travel seems to have almost come to a standstill. Even now, though airlines are operating, very few countries are permitting tourists. As the vaccine gets distributed and administered to people across the world, COVID may become more controllable.
If you plan on traveling, you may need to prove that you have been vaccinated. A number of countries are working on designing vaccine passports. Read on to know more.
What is a vaccine passport?
A vaccine passport will be a certificate declaring the individual’s vaccination status. For people who have not been vaccinated, the document will state their latest COVID test results. It need not be a printed document but may be stored digitally on a phone or any other mobile device.
This is not an entirely new concept. Many countries already require proof of vaccination against diseases like yellow fever. Other countries that have started accepted international visitors require the traveler to present a negative COVID test result.
The need for vaccine passports
The travel sector stands to benefit most from vaccine passports. Airlines are counting on these documents to lower restrictions and allow people to travel domestically and internationally. Hotels are looking forward to this just as eagerly. The pandemic has led to many hotels shutting down and many others having to lay off a majority of their staff as rooms remain unoccupied.
Who is creating vaccine passports?
A number of countries are working on vaccine passports under different project names.
- Israel is working on a ‘green passport’. This will be used not only by travelers but also by people wanting to attend public events like concerts.
- Denmark is working on a document that will lower travel restrictions for vaccinated people.
- In the private sector, IBM is developing a Digital Health Pass and the International Air Transport Association is creating a Travel Pass.
Debating the fairness of vaccine passports
Firstly, vaccine passports cannot rule out the fact that travelers can still spread the virus. Studies are still incomplete on the likelihood of vaccinated people transmitting the disease.
Secondly, not everyone across the globe will get the vaccine simultaneously. People in wealthier countries will get the vaccine before people in poorer countries. Within the same country, affluent people could get the vaccine before the poorer section of the population.
Thirdly, there are places where smartphones are still considered a luxury. Thus, a digital document would be difficult for such people to access.
Lastly, there’s the fear of data breaches. Once developed, many people may worry whether a leisure trip is worth sharing their personal information on a digital platform. Like any other digital platform, this system will be subject to the risk of hacking.