A ‘vaccine passport’ app that could let people prove they have had the coronavirus jab is set to go on trial in the UK.
The Mvine-iProov passport will be tested by NHS directors of public health in two as yet undisclosed locations by March 31.
The aim is to see if the app can help keep track of the number of people that have received the first or second dose of the vaccine in any given area.
Although the people behind the software have said it could help get the country back to normality quicker after nearly a yea of lockdowns and restrictions, the government still insists it has no plans to introduce such a scheme.
Nadhim Zahawi, Covid-19 vaccine development minister, repeated claims today that a passport was not on the cards but it has supplied funding.
£75,000 has already been pumped into the project by Innovate UK, the Government’s science and research funding agency.
According to biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity company Mvine, the app will allow people to register their test results or vaccination status without disclosing their identities.
A statement from iProov claims it “can be plugged into the NHS’ existing infrastructure, enabling it to meet the specific needs of local Directors of Public Health and any overarching national requirements.”
This will allow those directors to “set appropriate policies”, the company says.
Frank Joshi, director at Mvine, said: “Without the need for an extensive new infrastructure, the directors of 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.”
The government has provided mixed messages when it comes to the topic of vaccine passports.
At the beginning of December Michael Gove said a Covid-19 vaccine ‘freedom passport’ isn’t being planned.
The day before the Minister for Vaccine Delivery Mr Zahawi said the government was in fact “looking at the technology”.
While the vaccine would not be compulsory, he said businesses such as bars, restaurants and sports venues could demand proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.
But Mr Zahawi was contradicted by Mr Gove, who told Sky News no such device was being planned.
“No that’s not being planned,” he said.
“I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.”
He said it would be a “big challenge” to convince some people to have the jab – and it was up to the government to convince them it was safe and in everyone’s interest.
When asked about the Mvine-iProov passport, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have no plans to introduce vaccine passports.
“At this stage of the vaccination programme, it is not clear whether vaccines will prevent transmission.
“As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths.
“If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.”