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South Korea’s vaccine passports to be backed by blockchain

A smartphone showing COVID-19 vaccination app

Countries including Brazil, China and the state of New York have turned towards blockchain to manage digital proofs of vaccination

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced earlier today that the country’s blockchain-powered vaccine passports will be launched through a smartphone app by the end of this month.

South Korea is one of the prominent nations that has introduced the concept of vaccine certificates to enable cross-border travel and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“The introduction of a vaccine passport or ‘Green Pass’ will only allow those who have been vaccinated to experience the recovery to their daily lives”, the Prime Minister said during a daily inter-agency pandemic response meeting, adding that the vaccine passports carry substantial benefits for citizens in South Korea too.

Blockchain technology has been used by the government to develop and support the app in order to secure the green pass against potential identity theft. “[Systems] in other countries also do not store personal information while allowing the verification of vaccination statuses”, Chung noted.

The new mobile app which will be used to manage digital proofs of vaccination will also ensure that individuals are not able to forge evidence of having received the vaccination using the blockchain platform.

The vaccine passport is primarily targeted at travellers from other countries. Travellers will be expected to use the app and provide certifiable evidence of having been vaccinated before entering the country.

Around 77,000 people have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in South Korea so far with the government hoping to vaccinate 12 million more by June. The country witnessed 550 new cases yesterday.

South Korea is not the only country reaping the benefits of blockchain by using it to track vaccinations. New York has collaborated with IBM to develop Excelsior Pass, which uses blockchain technology for its security advantages.

“Businesses and venues can scan and validate your pass to ensure you meet any COVID vaccination or testing requirements for entry”, the New York state administration said.

Brazil, China and Israel are other countries that have implemented a vaccine verification system and the European Union plans to do so by June. The International Air Transport Association is also attempting to achieve a standard protocol for vaccine verification during cross-border travel through its app Travel Pass.

However, the possibility of forged documents continues to threaten the vaccination drive in many countries. According to a BBC report, cybersecurity agency CheckPoint has identified more than 1,200 ads for vaccines and vaccine passports on the darknet.

“Check Point investigators found many sellers offering forged documents, including one supposedly from the UK, with a vaccination card for $150 using the hard-to-trace cryptocurrency Bitcoin as the payment method”, the article explained.

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