The administration of Biden and private companies are reportedly developing a ‘vaccine passport’ that will allow Americans to return to pre-pandemic activities such as travel and shopping by proving they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The ‘vaccine passport’ is believed to be key to achieving the government’s goal of emerging from lockdown this summer and returning to a semblance of normalcy.
It will most likely be available for free through smartphones.
According to The Washington Post, vaccinated Americans can flash a scannable code, while those who don’t have a phone can print a code on a piece of paper.
But the administration faces many hurdles, including questions about privacy data protection and accessibility for people at a socioeconomic disadvantage.
President Joe Biden (seen at right with First Lady Jill Biden) disembarks from Air Force One at Andrews Joint Base in Maryland on Sunday after spending a weekend in Wilmington, Delaware.
The president was seen above Saturday leaving St. Joseph at Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware
Biden’s administration is developing a COVID-19 ‘vaccine passport’. The image above shows a doctor preparing a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Saturday in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
The developers must also ensure that the systems are not breached and that false digital passports are issued. Another dilemma is how long immunity lasts and whether to take COVID-19 variants into account.
There is also the question of whether the administration will try to develop a uniform passport.
According to Biden’s administration, at least 17 different passport initiatives are currently being developed by public and private entities.
The World Health Organization is working on the development of a ‘smart vaccination certificate’.
New York State officials have launched a digital pass that New Yorkers can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
The Excelsior Pass is accepted at major entertainment venues such as Madison Square Garden and Albany’s Times Union Center.
The passport is most likely available for free via smartphones. According to The Washington Post, vaccinated Americans can flash a scannable code, while those who don’t have a phone can print a code on a piece of paper.
The app is similar to a mobile airline’s boarding pass and uses a secure QR code that can be stored on a smartphone or printed.
Officials said the technology does not store or track personal health data in the app.
Other countries and entities, including the European Union, China and Japan, are working on their own versions of vaccine passports.
In Israel, a country that has vaccinated its citizens faster than any other in the world, public events have resumed, although they are limited to those who have been vaccinated.
Participants were required to present a ‘Green Pass’, a government-validated certificate stating that they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were suspected of being immune.
The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.
The Vaccination Credential Initiative describes itself as a ‘voluntary coalition of public and private organizations committed to providing individuals with access to a reliable and verifiable copy of their vaccination data in digital or paper form using open, interoperable standards’.
Sources told the Post that the government’s efforts are being led by the Department of Health and Human Services.
White House coronavirus tsar Jeff Zients is coordinating with several government agencies.
“ Our role is to ensure that all solutions in this area must be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the ground up to protect people’s privacy, ” Zients said on March 12. against reporters.
Zients is expected to provide more information on the government’s efforts to develop the passport later this week.
However, there is concern that the government’s embrace of the project could be interpreted by some as a government mandate for citizens to get vaccinated.
“If it became a government mandate, it would go down a dark road very quickly,” Brian Castrucci, the head of the Maryland-based Beaumont Foundation, told the Post.
The foundation is a public health group that funds research into why some Americans are skeptical of the vaccine.
Castrucci said the administration should encourage private companies to take the lead in developing the passport.
[The passport] becomes a reference. It’s’ going to need your papers, ‘if you like,’ said Castrucci.
“That can be dangerous – and it can turn people off.”
The road to normalcy seems bumpy.
A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back at the top of the list of US states with the highest infection rates.
Even as the vaccination campaign has increased, the number of new infections in New Jersey has risen 37 percent in just over a month to about 23,600 every seven days.
About 54,600 people in New York City have tested positive for the virus in the past week, a number that has recently started to rise.
The two states are now No. 1 and 2 in new infections per capita among US states.
New Jersey reported about 647 new cases for every 100,000 residents in the past 14 days. New York has an average of 548.
The situation in New York and New Jersey reflects a national trend that has led to a significant increase in cases in recent days.
The US has an average of nearly 62,000 cases per day, up from 54,000 two weeks ago.
When asked on Sunday what is going wrong in the US as things grow, Biden told reporters, “Based on what I hear, people are apparently dropping their guard.”
Biden said he hopes to better understand the situation after meeting his pandemic team at the White House on Monday.
Neither New York nor New Jersey experiences anything like what they saw last spring, when hospitals – and morgues – were flooded.
And like the rest of the country, both are in a much better place than January, at the height of the winter pandemic.
But the lack of improvement or even relapse in recent weeks has raised concerns that states are opening too quickly and that people are too wary, just as potentially more contagious variants of the virus are circulating more widely.
“When we see the number of cases decreasing or increasing, now is the time to rethink policy,” said Roy Gulick, chief of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center.