People in Sweden are increasingly seeking to have microchips inserted into their bodies that contain their COVID-19 vaccination records, according to local media outlets.
A video recently shared by Aftonbladet, a Stockholm-based daily newspaper, showed one individual having a microchip inserted near the thumb on his right hand, a procedure that was performed quickly.
The paper’s video also featured other people who said they had had the microchips inserted in their hand, arm or chest. Those individuals then used their smartphone to detect the chip’s presence or swiped the portion of their body that contained the chip over door sensors to demonstrate how it worked.
The decision to have the microchips implanted under the skin is “increasingly popular” and comes amid tightening pandemic restrictions heading into the winter, according to Aftonbladet.
Last month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency issued guidance ahead of the winter holidays for indoor gatherings with more than 100 people. When these gatherings do not require proof of vaccination, event organizers are encouraged to assign seats for attendees, ensure social distancing measures are in place and restrict groups seated together to eight or fewer people. Events that do require proof of vaccination are instructed to have a “routine” in place for checking attendees’ vaccination records.
Nearly 80 percent of people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Sweden have been fully vaccinated, according to government data. Public health officials in the country have recently urged citizens to get a COVID-19 booster shot as the virus’s spread continues internationally. Those encouragements continued as Swedish officials reported earlier this week that Omicron, the latest strain identified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, was detected in Sweden.
The wider trend of inserting under the skin microchips containing personal information has developed over the past few years, gaining popularity in Sweden. People there began using the chips to gain access to their homes, offices, gyms and more without the use of handheld keys.
A 2018 NPR report said the microchips are about the size of a single grain of rice and were becoming so popular at the time that one of the main companies producing them reported difficulty keeping up with the demand. In 2017, a railway company in Sweden began allowing travelers to load their ticket information onto the microchips implanted in their bodies, according to BBC News. Railway conductors were then able to use smartphones to detect the chip and confirm the travelers’ tickets.
Newsweek reached out to the Public Health Agency of Sweden for comment but did not hear back before publication.