UK tech company launches global COVID and vaccination passport

British cyber technology company VST Enterprises (VSTE) developed and launched a digital health passport called V-Health Passport in April 2020, both for passengers and airlines in the UK, and now plan to roll it out globally.

The passport authenticates a person’s health status including COVID-19 test status and their vaccination records within a digital passport.

The V-Health Passport has 200 clinics across the UK where a person can book a COVID-19 test and be recognised as ‘fit to fly’ by International airlines.

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In the UK, it has already started this programme and is available through its healthcare testing partners Salutaris People and Akea Life both at Newcastle and Liverpool John Lennon airports.

WHY IT MATTERS

Passengers arriving into the UK last week were faced with unprecedented scenes at Heathrow airport with long delays, social distancing rules breached and passengers being refused entry to flights for holding invalid COVID-19 certificates. The tighter checks came as the government put in place new measures for entry into the UK in a bid to prevent the further spread of infection. 

Experts have warned of the risks facing airlines, airports and passengers from invalid COVID-19 test certificates, vaccination record cards and the use of health passports with unsafe QR and bar code technology. There are also implications of potential data breaches using unsecured code scanning technology in health passports.

The V-Health Passport technology is GDPR compliant and is built on a privacy framework of ‘Self Sovereign Identity’ where the user can choose what information they want to share. 

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Earlier this week, the NHS warned people to be vigilant about fake invitations to have the coronavirus vaccination, sent by scammers. The scam email includes a link to register for the vaccine, but no registration for the real vaccination is required.

Other digital health passport providers in the market such as Truu, extends existing NHS IT infrastructure to enable doctors and healthcare professionals to digitally prove their identity, qualifications and credentials securely. Founded by doctors, Manreet Nijjar and Henry Goodier, the company places a premium on ensuring patient safety and aims to increase trust and use of remote medicine tools such as telehealth consultations. 

ON THE RECORD

Manreet Nijjar, co-founder of Truu and consultant physician at Barts Health NHS trust, told HealthcareITNews: “The principle of individuals holding their data and it being portable in any aspect of life, but especially in health, whether that be a doctor who’s rapidly being deployed, or whether that is a patient who’s moving, is the way forward. And it will be done. It’s how it’s implemented. One of the bigger things with the digital health revolution is we’ve lost an aspect of confidentiality and consent with regards to personal data, which are core medical ethics upon which trust in medicine has been built upon.

“That’s what Truu is really about. Confidentiality, privacy by design and consent of data sharing – they’re all important elements to bring digital trust. We’re using digital technology to bring efficiency and trust into a physical process in the pre-employment process of doctors, and the same technology can be used in the digital world. That’s how we see it in terms of the individual holding all records that have been issued by trusted authorities.”

Louis-James Davis, CEO at VSTE said: “We are the first technology company in the world to have developed a secure, multipurpose, cross corporate and cross government digital health passport that does not rely on using bar codes or QR codes as its authentication technology.

“Both bar codes and QR codes have huge potential security implications as they can be cloned and hacked with the latter being subject to a process called ‘Attagging’. Therefore, any suggestion of using this type of technology in a health passport for air travel has very real security risks.

“Not only is a citizen’s personal information at risk, but their COVID test status, vaccination records and also their credit card information. All of this can lead to the very real potential of a massive data breach and a person’s personal information and data hacked and stolen. This is of particular concern when using a bar code or QR code technology designed for use to authenticate a person’s COVID-19 testing and/or vaccinations records.” 

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