Will India have digital vaccine passports soon?

The government is reportedly working on such passports. The objective is to allow fully vaccinated Indian citizens to travel freely overseas.
Vaccine passport, covid-19, pandemic
Will vaccine passports be the new normal for international travel? Image: Shutterstock/Nattakorn_Maneerat

The vicious second wave of the pandemic is abating, and India’s vaccination drive is steadily regaining momentum. Against this backdrop, the Government of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation is considering the development of digital health passports to support unencumbered travel for fully vaccinated Indian citizens. According to reports, the Ministry has initiated discussions with foreign technology providers specialising in mechatronics, surveillance solutions and biometrics to support the initiative.

The mobile health passports will carry digital information about a passenger’s COVID-19 history with special reference to vaccination and recoveries as applicable. Such passports could become part of the government’s DigiYatra programme. Introduced about three years ago, DigiYatra seeks to promote paperless travel by recourse to biometrics and facial recognition technologies among other solutions. Airline tickets could be linked with Aadhar cards to facilitate seamless vetting of health data.

Digital health passports aren’t exactly a novelty. Over the past two months, airlines such as Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines have begun to integrate into their systems, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass. Similarly, Air Asia has developed its Scan2Fly programme for flights connecting Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta. At the other end of the globe, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa have commenced mobile health passport pilots with US-based Common Pass and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Vaccine passports could be made mandatory to gain entrance to a country. Image: Pexels/Rodnae Productions

At a government level, the European Union encourages its member countries to adopt the Digital Green Certificate that incorporates relevant information on passenger health. The QR-coded document may be issued either in paper or digital versions by individual governments.

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