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UK to roll out digital health passes via NHS app, Estonia launches VaccineGuard

NHS app uses iProov face biometrics

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UK ministers have confirmed on Thursday the main National Health Service (NHS) app will be soon updated to enable the public to show their COVID-19 vaccination or test results when traveling or attending public events.

The NHS app, which utilizes biometric technology from iProov, is currently utilized by UK residents to access their medical records, book medical appointments, and order repeat prescriptions. Users simply need to scan their faces using facial recognition or utilize fingerprint biometrics via their smartphone to have access to these and more services from the NHS.

Following the new update, they will now be able to prove they have been vaccinated or received a negative test.

“If you want to go to 100 percent seat capacity at Wembley, you have to look at all these technologies which are available to you and I think it is only right and responsible for any government to explore that,” Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a recent interview with BBC Breakfast.

However, the feature most likely will not be introduced before May 17, the date when international travel would be allowed again in and from the UK for non-essential reasons.

“The data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be traveling to and making sure that we’re protected from the disease being reimported,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explained.

According to Shapps, the government would also be currently working on the app to be recognized internationally.

“I’m working internationally with partners across the world, to make sure that that system can be internationally recognized,” Shapps recently told Sky News.

Looking forward, a Government spokesperson told inews.co.uk, the UK will also consider ways for people to demonstrate their COVID status even without a smartphone.

“Security and privacy will be at the core of our approach,” they said, “use of the NHS App is being considered as part of the digital route.”

Estonia launches VaccineGuard

The Government of Estonia has launched distributed data exchange platform VaccineGuard to provide secure and internationally verifiable vaccination certificates for COVID-19 in compliance with the EU’s green certificate proposal.

VaccineGuard is made by enterprise blockchain developer GuardTime, and provides a feedback loop between all participating public health authorities, hospitals, citizens, certificate providers, vaccine manufacturers and border guards without creating a centralized database or ERP system, according to the announcement.

GuardTime says it is working with manufacturers and governments around the world to deploy VaccineGuard for digital health pass provision at scale.

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