Taking the lead on a Greek proposal initially made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis– and initially shunned by many European leaders, the President of the European Commission announced it will issue a certificate called a Digital Green Pass that would let people who are vaccinated, possess antibodies or test negative for the coronavirus travel more freely.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in a Tweet that the the Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans’ lives. The aim is to gradually enable (Europeans) to move safely in the European Union or abroad — for work or tourism.”
The announcement, sent in a letter to her European colleagues and obtained by The Pappas Post, comes almost two months after many in Europe initially panned Mitsotakis’ proposal that he made back in January.
At the time, many European leaders balked at the Greek plan over privacy issues, while others pointed to an Orwellesque dystopian reality with society divided amongst the haves and have-nots, based on their vaccine status.
France expressed reservations about vaccine certificates. “Not everyone has access to vaccines. And we don’t know if they prevent transmission,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said in January.
Germany was also opposed to a vaccinated minority enjoying privileges denied the rest of the population. But it didn’t rule out the private sector imposing such a requirement.
“If a restaurateur wants to open only to vaccinated people, it would be difficult to forbid that under current laws,” German’s Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said.
Poland and Belgium also said they were opposed to the idea at the time.
But it’s not only the European Union that is rolling out vaccine passport plans.
One of U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive orders aimed at curbing the pandemic asks government agencies to “assess the feasibility” of linking coronavirus vaccine certificates with other vaccination documents, and producing digital versions of them.
Etihad Airways and Emirates will start using a digital travel pass, developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), to help passengers manage their travel plans and provide airlines and governments documentation that they have been vaccinated or tested for Covid-19.
In addition to I.A.T.A., IBM has been developing its own Digital Health Pass that would enable individuals to present proof of vaccination or a negative test to gain access to a public location, such as a sports stadium, airplane, university or workplace.
The pass, built on IBM’s blockchain technology, can utilize multiple data types, including temperature checks, virus exposure notifications, test results and vaccine status.
The World Economic Forum and the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit group, have been testing a digital health passport called CommonPass, which would allow travelers to access testing or vaccination information. The pass would generate a QR code that could be shown to authorities.
Photo: Photo by Daniel Schludi.
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