Could immunity passports help global economies recover? - Personal Blog


Will the introduction of immunity passports help severely disrupted economies recover, by allowing travellers to present proof of their test results? Some experts believe so, but The WHO says we don't know how accurate antibody tests are or how long antibodies remain in someone's body.

There are a few ongoing government projects that are working on digital identities, the user signs up by uploading an official government approved document such as a passport or driving licence, they then use their smartphone's camera to match their face with the document using facial recognition and AI functions, then this is linked to an official health certificate which must be issued by an approved government healthcare facility, once all connected, the user would receive some type of unique code which could be presented to an airline, business premise or shop if required before they could gain access or fly for instance.

The technology is certainly here already, and we have seen how the Government of Jersey and Yoti partnership has introduced 'Digital Identities' to improve the submission of tax returns to good effect, the technology stands up, it's just that we don't know enough about the virus still to determine whether a person who has been infected in the past and has antibodies, is immune and if they are, how long this immunity will last.

China was quick to introduce a health code app, which shows that the person was symptom free when they last last had a check, they are then allowed to check-in to hotels and ride the metro. The Chilean government has issued a virus free certificate for citizens that have recovered from COVID-19, so they can return to work without restrictions on movement, but again these methods only prove that the individual was without the virus when they were tested, they could in-fact be presenting a clean certificate and be infected.

Also, we need to consider that in some cases patients have been shown to carry the virus for over 3 months after their official documented recovery, which could lead to wide-scale spread of infections. There was that case of reinfection in Hong kong, so it seems that it is possible to catch the virus more than once, however, up until now it seems pretty unlikely.

Whilst I'm a big advocate of using technology to help global economies recover, I don't believe the time is right to issue immunity passports on a national or even international scale. The WHO also confirms that they don't recommend the issuing of immunity passports, so whether or not we will see movement here, we will see. The biggest affect on global economies would be the introduction of a vaccine, that is what is truly needed and where money should be spent.