Controversy rocks digital health pass management in Liberia, Scotland
A system put in place to manage COVID vaccine certificates for people travelling into Liberia is said to have broken down, sparking concerns about the possibility of many Afro-Americans travelling to the West African country for its bicentennial anniversary celebrations. Aggravating the controversy is that the setting up of the system was contracted to the owner of an enterprise involved in the fraudulent rental of 20 facial recognition thermometers to the National Elections Commission of Liberia in 2020, in a matter which is presently before the court.
In a similar development, opposition lawmakers in Scotland have expressed worries that the cost of running a digital health pass, which until last month enabled people to access large event grounds, turned out to be about ten times higher than what was previously estimated.
Liberia COVID vaccine certificate app imbroglio
According to a report by Global News Network (GNN) Liberia, the faulty COVID Incident Management System is run by Mtotaling Brown, VP for Operations at Tuma Enterprises, to whom thousands of U.S. dollars were reportedly paid by travelers for the non-operational app. The money remains unaccounted for.
GNN Liberia says it spoke to sources within the Incident Management System service who confirmed that many Black Americans wishing to travel Liberia to participate in its bicentennial anniversary celebrations have been denied connecting flights to Monrovia by some airlines because of the non-functional nature of the COVID status management system on arrival.
The app is supposed to allow passengers, upon arrival in Liberia, to login and access either their COVID test applications or vaccine certificates to confirm their virus status to airport authorities.
The report further says its findings show the system collapsed in November 2021 and since then, Brown and company have continued to collect money, including from those intending to travel to the country, without any COVID vaccine certification services being offered.
While the report cites the case of Delta Airlines which recently denied some passengers access to a Brussels connecting flight to Liberia, it says hundreds of passengers have been prevented from deplaning upon arrival because there is no system in place to ascertain their COVID status.
Politicians decry wasteful spending on Scotland COVID passport app
Ministers of the Scottish National Party (SNP) have been lambasted by opposition party figures over the huge sum of money spent to run the SNP’s COVID passport app, according to a report by The Times.
Per the report, the government is accused of being dishonest about the figures, which it initially put at £600,000 (approximately US$795,000). However, documents obtained by the Scottish Sun over the weekend indicate the real figure for the app project was around £6.8 million ($9 million).
The app in question was used by citizens to certify that they had received complete vaccine doses before they could gain access to events that required large crowds. It however remains in use for international travels, the report notes.
Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP, told The Times: “The SNP’s vaccine passport app has been an expensive farce from the word go. This is a shocking waste of public funds on a scheme that never had any proven effect on COVID transmission. Not only that, but the SNP have kept these ballooning costs under wraps for over two months.”
Another politician, Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrat expressed worries that “the secretive nature of the manner in which the contract has been extended will give taxpayers no confidence about how their money is being spent.”
Digital health passes have just reached the point of having an ICAO PKI Health Master List to support international interoperability earlier this year.