COVID-19 immunity passport options investigated by ministers ahead of summer

Ministers are looking into the creation of a digital vaccine passport, government sources have confirmed to Sky News.

Research groups are said to have been set up on the subject as attention turns to what will happen to international travel once jabs are more widely rolled out across the world.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly earlier avoided confirming the news, only telling Sky News that countries will “set their own border measures” – as well as defending the delay to hotel quarantine plans.

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But The Times reported on Friday that a certification system is being planned by three government departments to let travellers go abroad to countries that may demand proof of inoculation.

It also said Greece is preparing to waive quarantine rules for those who have been vaccinated.

Sweden’s government announced on Thursday it plans to launch a digital coronavirus vaccine passport by summer, if there is an international standard in place by then.

And Denmark also said this week it would launch a first version of the document by the end of February.

Senior ministers in the UK have talked down the prospect of vaccine passports in the past.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said at the start of December: “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.”

Tony Blair is one of those who has been pushing for the UK government to take a lead on the issue, suggesting last week the UK should take advantage of chairing the G7 and push for other countries to develop the documents.

The former prime minister said it was “inevitable” the idea will be developed by other nations, as the global race for inoculation against COVID-19 gets under way.

A report by his non-profit organisation the Tony Blair Institute said the “only way to navigate allowing people to travel internationally again” is creating a global travel pass showing each individual’s coronavirus status.

Mr Blair has made multiple interventions during the pandemic, and recently suggested the idea of pushing back the second dose of coronavirus vaccines to dramatically increase the number of people offered at least some protection.

The idea gained traction and is now government policy, helping boost the UK’s global standing in the race to administer jabs.

Turning his attention to what happens next, Mr Blair’s institute said the UK should “place the creation of a global COVID-19 travel pass as a key item on the G7 agenda”, when leaders from the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada congregate in Cornwall later this summer.

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