WHO making moves on international vaccine ‘passport’

Politico – by Daniel Payne

BUILDING A ‘TRUST FRAMEWORK’ — The World Health Organization will convene member states and leaders of Covid-19 immunization credential technology groups to recognize different vaccine certificates across nations and regions, a top Vaccination Credential Initiative official told POLITICO’s Ben Leonard.

The WHO is bringing together the groups to develop a “trust framework” that would allow countries to verify whether vaccine credentials are legitimate, said Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at MITRE and a co-founder of the VCI.

Why it matters: The effort would aid international travel by allowing proof of vaccination to be more easily shared and verified, Anderson said. Many countries and regions have different standards for proof of inoculation, creating confusion for travelers and officials.

“It’s piecemeal, not coordinated and done nation to nation,” Anderson said. “It can be a real challenge.”

The WHO would say only that news on the topic should be coming “soon.”

The VCI is behind SMART Health Cards, which have become the de facto standard for digital vaccine credentials in the U.S., with dozens of states developing or adopting the technology. The group will participate in the initiative.

It’s unclear whether the U.S. would participate. The White House and the Departments of State and HHS didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Background: The move would be the most significant coordinated international push to enable interoperable credentials among nations and regions.

Existing standards include a digital Covid certificate for European Union member nations. The U.S. has no official standard despite SMART Health Cards’ dominance.

Advocates have touted the vaccine credentials, commonly known as passports, as a way to facilitate travel and reopening efforts. Many red-leaning states have opposed the technology, but that hesitancy appears to be softening as several of those states have adopted the technology.

No U.S. database: The Biden administration has said it wouldn’t issue digital credentials and hasn’t rolled out standards for vaccine credentials it said it would issue. Complicating the situation is that the U.S. doesn’t have a national inoculation database.

The CDC- and HHS-stamped Covid-19 paper vaccination cards are relatively easy to forge, which has raised concerns about fraud.

Politico

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