Big Tech is Allegedly Working on a Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Passport, May Determine Who Can TravelJanuary 16, 2021
Multiple companies in the tech and health industries including Oracle, Microsoft and the Mayo Clinic, are reportedly working on a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport so businesses, airlines and other entities could check who has received the COVID vaccine.
It is unclear at the moment if citizens would be bared from traveling or conducting in other activities if they haven't been vaccinated however it seems clear that this may be the case.
The Hill reports that a coalition of health and technology organizations are working to develop a new digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that could be checked by businesses, airlines, and countries to confirm if an individual has received the vaccine. The coalition includes tech giants such as Microsoft and Oracle, along with the Mayo Clinic.
On Thursday, the Vaccination Credential Initiative announced that it is developing technology to confirm vaccinations in case governments mandate that people provide proof that they have received a vaccination in order to travel.
The coalition hopes that the tech will allow people to “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.” The group is using work from the Commons Project’s international digital document that verifies a person has tested negative for COVID-19.
Currently, the Commons Project’s system, which was created in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, is being utilized by three major airline alliances. The coalition is reportedly currently in discussions with several governments to create a program requiring either negative tests or proof of vaccination to enter the country, according to Commons Project chief executive Paul Meyer.
In a release, Meyer said: “The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy.”
Executive vice president of Oracle’s Global Business Units Mike Sicilia, said that the passport “needs to be as easy as online banking,” and added: “We are committed to working collectively with the technology and medical communities, as well as global governments, to ensure people will have secure access to this information where and when they need it.”
The news comes after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced their plan to mobilize FEMA and the National Guard to distribute the coronavirus vaccine throughout the United States.
“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said during a speech on Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”
Check out what CNBC reported:
Drug store chains and pharmacies were supposed to take on a larger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower-than-expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on the federal government earlier this week to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies as they do with hospitals and health departments.
The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could administer at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would exceed the incoming administration’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.
The Biden administration has said current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population, adding, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”
The pace of vaccinations in the U.S. is going much slower than officials had hoped. As of Friday at 6 a.m. ET, more than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 12.2 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, cases are rapidly growing, with the U.S. recording at least 238,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,310 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins University data.
“We remain in a very dark winter,” Biden said during a speech on Friday. “Almost a year later we’re still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better,” he said. He called the vaccine rollout in the U.S. a “failure.”
According to the plan, Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”
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The incoming president’s advisors had previously hinted that he would invoke the wartime production law, which allows the president to compel companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security, to bolster vaccine production.
“The policy changes that we’re going to be making are going to take time to show up in the Covid statistics. It’s not just statistics, it’s people’s lives,” Biden said Friday.
The plan says the act will increase the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise cause bottlenecks in the vaccine’s rollout if they were in shortage, including glass vials, syringes, stoppers and needles. It will also increase the capacity to package the vaccines into vials.
Biden’s plan will also encourage states to open up eligibility beyond health-care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, and include frontline essential workers like teachers, first responders, grocery store employees and anyone who is 65 and older.
The CDC on Tuesday issued new guidelines that expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older as well as to those with comorbid conditions, like diabetes. Some 53 million Americans who are 65 and older and 110 million people between 16 and 64 with comorbid conditions are now eligible to receive the vaccine if every state adopts the guidelines, according to the CDC.
“It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be,” the Biden team wrote. “But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they will reach more people who need them.”
“We’ll help people understand what science tell us," Biden said. "That the vaccines help reduce the risk of Covid infections and can better safeguard our health and the health of our families and our communities."
“Our plan is as clear as it is bold,′ he added. Get more people vaccinated for free, create more places for them to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms, increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible. This will be one of the most challenging operation efforts ever undertaken by our country, but you have my word. We will manage the hell out of this operation.”
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