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COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Will Be Important for International Travel

Since the rollout of coronavirus vaccines began, countries have reopened their borders for non-essential international travel. With the reopening of international travel, the tourism sector has made a slight recovery from the effects of the pandemic and allowed travelers to resume their canceled plans.

What are COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

COVID-19 vaccine passports are digital or paper-based records used to show that you are vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of these certificates contain a scannable QR code that can be stored digitally.

Paper-based formats mostly show the name and details, such as the place and vaccine you received.  Some might have additional marks to prove authenticity.

Most countries that have vaccine systems allow their citizens to receive a vaccine passport as soon as they are vaccinated. The UK, for example, has the NHS pass, which is linked to your vaccination record. The EU has the EUDCC system, which is available in each EU country.

Proof of Vaccination

Vaccine passports have been significant in proving that a traveler is vaccinated, the type of vaccine they received, and their suitability to travel into another country.

Despite the rise of new COVID-19 variants, vaccine certificates are expected to continue their critical role in international travel. Countries are setting up COVID-19 vaccination certificate systems to help their citizens prove their vaccination status.

Even more important, more countries are recognizing the need for interoperability between various systems. With interoperability in mind, they are developing vaccine passports that are readable and verifiable from different countries.

The most widely recognized system for proving vaccination against COVID is the EU digital COVID Certificate system, which has attracted the attention of many countries in and outside Europe.

Other countries like the US are still firm on not introducing a federal mandate for vaccine passports. However, foreign travelers into the US must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination before boarding a plane to the United States.

The United States also specifies that foreign travelers must be vaccinated with one of the FDA-approved or authorized vaccines. Those vaccinated with vaccines approved by the WHO as emergency use vaccines can also travel to the US.

How to Use Vaccine Passports When Traveling Abroad

Before you travel during the pandemic, the first step is to identify the travel requirements for your destination country. Different countries have different travel requirements.

If not fully vaccinated and you have recently recovered from COVID-19, you can request a vaccination certificate that shows you’ve recently recovered from the virus. The EU, for instance, issues a COVID-19 certificate for those who have recovered from the coronavirus within the previous six months.

Another important factor to check before you leave for another country is the length of time a COVID vaccine is considered effective. For instance, you may need to wait at least 14 days after your first shot to travel.

Depending on where you are traveling to, your vaccine certificate might be unrecognized. Therefore, you want to check whether your destination country has a means for verifying your vaccine passport.

If not, you can identify alternative steps or allowances for unvaccinated persons. These might include a negative PCR test within a certain time pre-departure, or quarantine requirements.

Summary

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and vaccine passports have provided a sense of hope for resuming activities. As more countries roll out vaccines and introduce vaccine passports, travelers can prove their vaccination status and travel from one country to another.

 

 

 

How A Unified Digital Identity Will Help in Identity Verification

Identity verification is an age-old tool to confirm that people are who they claim to be. With digital identities, there is a greater need for verification. This is especially so as people operate in an online environment where anyone can adopt any identity.

Digital identities come in many forms, and one person could have several of them. A digital identity includes your social, personal, civic, enterprise, or other information.

Since digital identities are here to stay, the need for a method to uniquely identify people all over the world becomes important.

Why is a Unified Identity Important?

Unified digital identities offer several benefits. First, they help improve security and control over information. Through unified digital identities, organizations can reduce their threat surfaces.  This strengthens their  cybersecurity.

Second, unified digital identities can help organizations improve user experience. Consumers and employees expect a smooth experience when completing transactions or activities online. For example, travelers want to easily prove their identity easily across different airports and countries.

Thirdly, having a unified digital identity helps address certain challenges, such as those that arose with the pandemic. Due to the airborne nature of COVID-19, smartphone location data provided the government with a reliable way to help in contact tracing. Stakeholders can also track compliance to protective measures in the event of another pandemic.

The Role of Blockchain in a Unified Digital Identity

Blockchain has provided a potential identity management solution due to its immutable nature. With blockchain, experts are looking to develop a solution that allows users to prove their identity without revealing unnecessary information.

Since privacy is a major concern for a majority of people and businesses, blockchain can provide an ideal solution. People can prove that they meet certain requirements without having to disclose the actual information. For instance, you can prove that you are 18 or over without disclosing additional details such as your date or year of birth.

Blockchain provides the opportunity to create a portable, encrypted digital identity, Compatible across various platforms, without the need for centralized storage.

The decentralized storage for these digital identities protects users from the risk of data compromise in a hacking incident or the risk of becoming fodder for identity theft.

Risks of a Unified Digital Identity

Used in the right way, a digital identity is a tool for convenient identity verification. However, as with all technologies containing personal information, privacy and human rights are major concerns.

Trust is a significant factor in convincing people to fully embrace unified digital identities. This means that users and stakeholders must be certain that the personal data they have will be used only for the proper purposes.

Another concern with digital identities is the potential for abuse by governments. Authoritarian governments might be more likely to abuse unified digital identities if they are not built with the proper safeguards.

Due to these concerns, identity management experts suggest the use of self-sovereign systems that give full control of information to its owner. In this case, the owner controls where, how long, and how the information is stored.

What the Future Looks Like

As digital identities become a central part of our society, the need for these identities to be unified becomes more important.  Due to privacy concerns and the risks associated with having a unified digital identity, more identity holders will want control of their information. Therefore, identity management solutions should give identity owners autonomy and control over their data.