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What can be done about fake vaccine cards?

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As the Covid-19 delta variant spreads and the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, experts say that people across the world are having an easier time getting around restrictions related to vaccination status – by purchasing fake vaccine cards online.

As the Covid-19 delta variant spreads and the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, experts say that people across the world are having an easier time getting around restrictions related to vaccination status – by purchasing fake vaccine cards online.

As more and more South Africans get vaccinated and facilities mandate vaccines for entry, fake vaccine cards could become a challenge.

Some parts of the world, such as New York and California, have introduced digital vaccine cards. The South Korean tech company, Samsung, has come up with its own solution to the challenge. Samsung devices that support Samsung Pay can, in the US, store digital versions of users’ Covid-19 vaccination cards, through a partnership with healthcare non-profit The Commons Project, the smartphone company announced.

Users have to first download the free CommonHealth app from the Google Play store and follow the instructions to access their Covid-19 vaccine record from participating pharmacies, health systems, and health providers (not all providers are connected to the system). Once the user has access to their Covid-19 credentiasl on the CommonHealth app, they can add it to their Samsung Pay wallet. The Covid-19 Vaccine Pass will then be available on the Samsung Pay app home page.

The next stage may be to get restaurants, schools, offices or other places that may require proof of vaccination to accept these electronic versions.

In the US, the electronic Covid vaccine card has been a bit slow to catch on, but there’s been progress. In June, Google opened Android’s built-in passes system to let Android users store a digital vaccine card on their phones. Available first in the US, it will rely on support from health-care providers or other organisations authorised to distribute Covid vaccines.

Concerns have been raised about privacy and securing health data once digital vaccine cards are adopted. The concern has fuelled the preference for cardboard vaccine cards. It seems there’s a need for more innovation with vaccine cards to avoid fakes and violation of privacy and possibly manipulation of vaccine status online.

A better quality vaccine card with digital elements may be a safer compromise than cardboard cards and complete digital versions. Innovators in South Africa should take on the challenge and potentially develop the next version of digital health records.

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