The UK is said to be starting trials of a vaccine passport that could play a key role in efforts to inoculate the population against coronavirus.
Thousands of Brits who have already received their Covid-19 jab will be offered a passport proving they have been vaccinated as part of a government-funded trial, the Telegraph reported.
The passport will take the form of a free app developed by biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine.
Innovate UK, the government body in charge of funding technology and innovation, has poured £75,000 into the project as part of a £40m startup investment programme launched last year.
The trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities, though the locations are yet to be confirmed, according to the report. It will be completed in March.
The government hopes the trial will show how digital passports could be used to keep track of how many Brits have received their first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
If successful, it could be rolled out to millions across the UK and play a role in the easing of lockdown measures.
The government has issued conflicting statements over the use of vaccine passports in the UK.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove last month said there were no plans to use vaccine passports to allow people to return to hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.
But health minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government was “looking at the technology”, adding that it could be used by venues in a similar way to the test and trace app.
Vaccine passports could also provide a fillip to the struggling travel industry, with many airlines already developing their own health certification programmes.
The move comes after the Ada Lovelace Institute today launched an open call for evidence as part of a review into the use of vaccine passports.
The review, chaired by UCL’s professor of health care law Sir Jonathan Montgomery, will examine the legal, ethical, scientific and economic impact of the technology.