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Digital health passes worldwide: progress, setbacks and still a void in the US

Digital health passes worldwide: progress, setbacks and still a void in the US

Authorities around the world are rushing to provide ways their citizens can prove their COVID-19 status both at home and abroad.

The most recent digital health pass developments show progress in some areas, ‘technical difficulties’ (data leaks) in others and still confusion in the U.S. The UK has announced it is about to start letting double-jabbed U.S. travelers in to England without quarantine which could show how countries cooperate with the U.S., where there is no federal health pass.

UK part 1: Northern Ireland data leak

Note: England and Wales use the NHS COVID Pass, Northern Ireland has COVIDCertNI and Scotland has system where a letter can be requested, downloaded and printed out.

In Northern Ireland, ‘Technical problems’ with the COVIDCertNI app are frustrating travel plans for those hoping to go on vacation from the country as the online service for vaccine certification was suspended.

The app allows users to prove their COVID-19 status, but some users were shown the data of other uses.

The digital health pass went offline on Tuesday, reports the BBC forcing thousands to reconsider their travel plans.

The NI Department of Health said it was “aware that a limited number of users in limited circumstance may be presented with data relating to other users.”

The Information Commissioners Office has been contacted and “Immediate action has also been taken to temporarily remove a part of the service that manages identity,” according to the report.

The Bleeping Computer site is monitoring the situation and provides more details on the categories affected and is trying to find out how many were affected.

UK Part 2: England allows quarantine-free arrival for US and EU travelers

From 4 a.m. on 2 August, fully vaccinated passengers coming from the U.S. and EU and who were vaccinated outside the UK can avoid quarantine on arrival in England, following the latest changes to its regulations.

Previously, since 19 July, the quarantine waiver only applied to those who were vaccinated in the UK and travelled abroad. Anyone vaccinated outside the UK, including Brits, had to undergo 10 days’ quarantine if returning from an amber list country.

The change includes the formal recognition of certificates proving full vaccination with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency or US Food and Drug Administration.

Sky News reports on a 10-day trial with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport.

Proof of vaccination was accepted via the U.S. CDC card, US State-level digital certificates and the EU Digital COVID Certificate. BA passengers uploaded their status into the VeriFLY app used by multiple airlines, and Virgin passengers into FlyReady, the app it shares with Delta Airlines, built in partnership with Yoti.

The trial found that 99 percent of documents were correctly verified at the border at Heathrow.

1.5 million people are now using VeriFLY, the COVID-19 health pass app developed by biometric authentication firm Daon, and used by airlines around the world, reports Ireland’s Business Post. Ireland’s national carrier Aer Lingus is one of the participants along with American Airlines and Japan Airlines.

The Hyatt hotel group is reportedly using VeriFLY for conventions, as is USA Gymnastics.

US Part 1: how to get a health pass

Fully vaccinated Americans may still struggle to prove their status ahead of a trip to England. There is also a ‘do not travel’ warning for the UK from the CDC.

U.S. President Joe Biden has ruled out a federal health pass, leaving Americans to turn to other providers such as state governments. But more than half of all states have banned them and some have no policy.

Forbes has published “5 Ways to Get Digital Proof of Covid Vaccination Status – Even If You Live in a Red State.”

These options include turning to the pharmacy store’s digital record, the MyIRMMobile platform for a PDF certificate from a handful of states or even going via the DMV to add a vaccine card to your digital driving license in wallets such as the MyColorado app.

US Part 2: PassID app chosen for Mexico-bound travelers

Health tech company USHealthPass has partnered with VisitMexico USA to create a digital health pass for U.S. travelers to Mexico, reports Catalyst.

The solution is PassID, powered by Proven. USHealthPass is in talks with health care institutions, entertainment venues and airlines for further partnerships.

Malta: digital health passes – with help from HID

Malta has joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme. Security has been improved and issues with the UK COVID-19 certificate (presumably England and Wales) had been resolved, according to Malta Today.

The system comes on top of the existing local version already in use. The Malta Today article was shared in social media by HID Global with the note “Digital Health Certificates for Malta: HID is proud to have been part of this EU-wide project!”, suggesting the company’s involvement in the overall scheme.

Vietnam: facial recognition app deployed to monitor home isolation

Ho Chi Minh City is piloting VHD (Vietnam Health Declaration), an app developed by the military-run Viettel telco that continuously monitors people isolating at home who have tested positive for COVD-19, reports Vietnam Plus.

The app uses facial recognition and GPS to link the patient to their place of quarantine. It then requests biometric authentication at random, similar to Poland’s controversial Kwarantanna Domowa app.

VHD users will also have to make a health declaration three times a day and immediately report any symptoms such as shortness of breath.

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