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Health Care: Can Health Passports Eliminate Lockdowns?

By Dick Weisinger

Immunity or health passports are being proposed as a way to loosen travel and lockdown restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. A health passport is an electronic document that shows that its owner has either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 and should be immune to the viral disease for a period of time.

The idea is that those people with antibodies agains COVID-19 would be allowed to return to work and travel more normally without risking the spread of or contraction of the virus.

Some companies in the US and Europe have created the applications and infrastructure to support health passports. APPII, along with NIIT Technologies/Coforge, for example, has created a blockchain-based health passport. Other companies building health passports include Onfido, WISeKey, and CovidPass.

But the idea has some problems. First, no one knows how long Covid-19 immunity lasts or how easy it is to be infected by Covid-19 a second time. Second, many worry that this type of solution only further exacerbates social inequality because it may not be easily accessible or usable by poorer people. Also there is a worry about privacy issues with any kind of tracking tool and the chance that once in place other types of data about the users will be tracked.

Health passports have the potential to alleviate some of the economic burden that has come from lockdowns, but it may be some time before the risks associated with it are resolved and a consensus grows around which governments, organizations or businesses should or can control the management of this kind of health data.

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