As COVID-19 vaccination gathers momentum, there are growing expectations for overseas travel. But some argue that it is too early to allow overseas travel due to safety concerns.
Is there any way to ensure both travel and safety in the midst of the pandemic? For one, it would be a great safety protocol to allow only vaccinated people to enter a country, and that sparked the debate over the introduction of vaccine passports.
Security! Blockchain-based vaccine passports
A vaccine passport refers to a certificate that documents whether the holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and can be used like a passport for overseas travel. Vaccine passports contain personal health information related to COVID-19, such as the type of vaccine received and the date of vaccination.
It requires security technology as it contains such sensitive personal data. Blockchain technology is applied to protect personal data in vaccine passports and prevent counterfeit data. Blockchain is considered a key technology to introduce vaccine passports as it can identify people through a decentralized process.
Any early adopters? Green Pass in Israel
There is a country that already introduced vaccine passports. Israel, which has the highest vaccination rate in the world, introduced its vaccine passport Green Pass. If an Israeli has Green Pass, which is given to those vaccinated, he or she is exempted from self-quarantine obligations and there is no restriction in using public facilities. As a vaccine passport, it also lifts travel restrictions in certain countries. Green Pass holders can travel to Greece and Cyprus—two countries that signed an agreement with Israel—without having to self-quarantine.
Since April, Korea has also issued electronic vaccination certificates, which are provided to those vaccinated against COVID-19. Electronic vaccination certificates also implement blockchain technology for security. To turn them into as a vaccine passport used between different countries, however, various other factors need to be considered, such as international agreements and vaccination rates.
Too early? Ongoing debate over vaccine passports
The debate over vaccine passports is pretty much still ongoing. With concerns that vaccine passports may discriminate against those not vaccinated against COVID-19, some point out that they are not very effective in countries with low vaccination rates. Furthermore, others criticize that the security system for vaccine passports, which handle sensitive health information digitally, should be more sophisticated.
We have so far looked at vaccine passports with Incheon Airport. Can vaccine passports really become a required item for overseas travel? We hope that vaccine passports play an important role in accelerating the reopening of overseas travel by supplementing their weaknesses and maintaining their strengths.