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Thousands of Britons who have received their Covid jab ‘will be offered a vaccine passport’ in trial taking place this month – as EU considers plan to bring them in for travel across Europe

  • Thousands of Britons will be offered vaccine passes in trial starting this month
  • Passport will be issued as a free app which show if people have had Covid jab
  • Government agency Innovate UK has pumped £75,000 into project so far
  • Vaccines tsar Nadhim Zahawi has flip-flopped over controversial policy

Jack Wright – Daily Mail Jan 12, 2021

Thousands of Britons who have already received their coronavirus jab will be offered a vaccine passport in a trial taking place this month after ministers flip-flopped over the controversial policy.

The passport, created by biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine, will be issued as a free app and will allow users to prove digitally if they have had their first or second jab – or no jab at all.

Though the Department of Health said there were ‘no plans’ to introduce vaccine passports, the Government’s own science and research funding agency Innovate UK has already pumped £75,000 into the project.

Mvine director Frank Joshi said the company, which had started working on the passports to demonstrate test results, later acquired more funding to switch into vaccination passporting.

The Government-backed trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and is expected to last until March – right through the third national lockdown.

However, the locations have yet to be agreed, according to the Telegraph.

The trial is expected to show how the passports can be used to help the NHS keep track of the number of people that have received their first or second jab.

iProov boss Andrew Bud told the paper: ‘We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS.’

Both companies added that if the vaccine passports prove successful, the project could be rolled out to millions of people across the country.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘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.’

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were ‘not the plan’ while Boris Johnson’s vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi said they were ‘looking at the technology’.

Mr Zahawi later told a Westminster Hall debate on Covid-19 inoculation there were ‘absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting’ and said ‘mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week also denied plans to implement passporting, telling the Spectator: ‘It’s not an area that we’re looking at.’

The policy has sparked concern that the passports could discriminate against people who must not be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Others fear it could keep non-vaccinated Britons under house arrest until they have a jab.

The idea of introducing vaccination certifications has already been floated in Europe, with Greek ministers suggesting that EU countries adopt a ‘standardised’ vaccine passport in order to promote travel and boost the industry.

In a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested: ‘Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.

‘It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states’.

The governments of Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Spain, Denmark and Belgium have all hinted that they would support such a scheme – although the idea is already raising concerns about privacy and data-sharing.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson clashed with NHS chiefs over the pace of the UK’s vaccine programme, blaming the ‘excessive bureaucracy’ for slowing down the roll-out.

It comes as No10 considers tightening the third national lockdown by imposing Chinese-style curfews, outdoor mask mandates and 10ft social distancing – as well as the closure of nurseries and limits on exercise.

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