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Vaccine ‘passports’ ready by October, says Morrison

written by Adam Thorn | July 21, 2021
A Qatar A380, A7-APA, as shot from the air by Victor Pody
A Qatar A380, A7-APA, as shot from the air by Victor Pody

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he believes vaccine passports will be available to be carried on phones by October, after discussion with world leaders at last month’s G7 summit.

“We already have vaccine certificates [in Australia],” Morrison said on Wednesday.

“Later in the year, about October we estimate, we will have a vaccination certificate that will be able to be… internationally recognised to facilitate when people are moving out of the country and into the country.

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“Being able to recognise others’ certificates, that is something that has been a common feature of the conversations I have been having with other leaders.”

While there are a number of systems in development, the most notable has been IATA’s, with Qatar this month expanding its trial of the technology.

Under the new trial phase, cabin crew will be able to upload both their COVID-19 vaccination credentials and their COVID-19 test results to the IATA Travel Pass Mobile App, which will verify whether or not they are eligible to travel.

On arrival in Doha, crew will then be able to safely and securely share their vaccination certificate and proceed through immigration at the airport.

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Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said, “Despite the significant challenges the pandemic has caused international aviation, our industry has continued to be a leader in adopting new technologies and innovations to ensure a safe, secure and seamless travel experience for our passengers.

“Certificates of COVID-19 vaccination or testing status will be key to restoring people’s freedom to travel.”

For months, airlines and airports have encouraged the use of digital health credential systems, largely QR codes and phone apps, to verify whether or not travellers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or have recently recovered from the virus.

The news follows recent concerns that the verification of digital health records should be completed before arriving at the airport, in order to prevent extensive queues at airports.

In recent weeks, Europe has been gearing up to issue European Union Digital COVID Certificates (EUDCC), formally referred to as the EU Digital Green Certificate, across 17 bloc countries.

The certificate serves essentially as a digital vaccine passport, and is due to come into effect from 1 July.

Closer to home, South Australia also recently confirmed it would host the two-week trial of home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals into the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the state would now set up a plan and timeframe of when the trial of home quarantine will come together.

“I think this is an important development,” said PM Morrison at the time. “That will be a transparent project with all the other states and territories.”

The new plans will see all arrivals declare their vaccination status when they land through COVID declaration cards.

“Obviously, those who are vaccinated have a much lower risk of infection than those who are not vaccinated,” the PM added.

There will also be a “strong preference” to only allow people to leave Australia if they have been vaccinated themselves.

“That reduces the risk both to them personally, because as we know COVID is through many countries around the world and many other places Australians will travel to, and that, of course, reduces the risk when they return to Australia,” PM Morrison said.

“For those who are unable for medical reasons to receive a vaccination or at this point in the cycle they may not have access to a vaccination, these are issues that will be taken into account by the border force commissioner in considering those arrangements.”

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