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Estonia tests first digital immunity passports for workplaces

Image credit: Anna Plonsak | Dreamstime

Estonia has started to test one of the world’s first digital immunity passports, aimed at ensuring a safer return to the workplace following the coronavirus lockdown.

Created by a team which includes founders of global tech start-ups Transferwise and Bolt, the digital immunity passport collects testing data and enables people to share their immunity status with a third party, such as an employer, using a temporary QR-code generated after digital authentication.

“Digital immunity passport aims to diminish fears and stimulate societies all over the globe to move on with their lives amidst the pandemic,” said Taavet Hinrikus, founder of Transferwise and a member of Back to Work, the non-governmental organisation developing the passport.

Many countries and businesses are rushing to develop apps for contact-tracing to enable people to return to their normal lives. Here in the UK, the NHS has opted for the development of a centralised contact-tracing app that is currently being trialled in the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, the EU has drafted a unified policy on contact-tracing apps to ensure they are secure.

In addition to technology entrepreneurs, Back to Work includes local medical experts and state officials. Furthermore, Radisson hotels and food producer PRFoods are among the first companies that have started to test the passport.

“We are seeking every solution to have our employees back to work and clients sleeping in our hotels again,” said Kaido Ojaperv, CEO of Radisson Blu Sky Hotel in the capital Tallinn.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published guidance on adjusting public health and social-distancing measures for the next phase of the Covid-19 response.

Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection.

However, WHO has warned that there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

Estonia, which has so far recorded 64 deaths due to Covid-19 and 1,791 infections, has started to ease the lockdown measures this month and opened last week with Lithuania and Latvia the first “travel bubble” within the European Union.

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