UK COVID-19 immunity passports entering live testing phase

The UK is entering the initial live testing stage for the newly-developed COVID-19 immunity and vaccination passport. The system, developed by facial biometric authentication company iProov and deep tech solutions provider Mvine, enables a user’s COVID-19 test results and vaccination status to be registered without disclosing their identity.

The prototype will be tested initially by directors of public health within the NHS. Mvine and iProov hope to have completed 2 trials by the end of March 2021 so that the passport may be rolled out more widely as vaccinations are rolled out increasingly across the UK.

WHY IT MATTERS

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Developed with the support of Innovate UK, who invested £75,000 in the project, the passport is designed to “prove” a person’s COVID-19 status. This is ultimately intended to ease restrictions on people meeting by reducing the risk of contagion, enabling families and friends to meet, employees to return to work in-person and businesses to reopen sooner and more responsibly.  

The system will not capture or store any identity data and will instead use an “abstract mathematical model of [the user’s] face” that “uses AI to work out a set of numbers which represent [them] and which cannot be mistaken for anyone else.” This will then be linked to the reference number on their test or vaccine. As such, the passport is available both off- and online and does not necessarily require the user to have any form of smart technology themselves.

One of the key features of the Mvine-iProov passport is its ability to function without the implementation of complex new infrastructure. It is designed to slot into the NHS’ existing digital infrastructure, which – as well as reducing costs – allows for a flexibility of use, accommodating the specific needs of local NHS organisations and the COVID-alert tier system.

THE LARGER PICTURE 

The live testing stage is the next step in the process for the UK immunity passport, which was initially announced in April last year. The prototype was funded as part of the UK Government and Innovate UK’s pledge of £40M to support digital innovation in response to the pandemic.

ON THE RECORD

Mvine director Frank Joshi said: “Without the need for an extensive new infrastructure, the directors for public health will learn how our innovation is used to promote public health and protect citizen privacy. Unlike some other digital solutions for COVID-19, this technology reduces the burden on frontline services and cost-effectively assures a secure and safe way to enable the return to work, return to school and return to the kind of life that people want to lead.”

IProov CEO Andrew Bud added: “Ensuring consumer trust, security and privacy is essential to the success of projects in this space. IProov enables all three. Our genuine presence assurance technology secures the link between the citizen and Mvine’s test status solution in this project, which we think can make an important contribution to forming the nation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

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