A World Health Organization (WHO) official said that the organization is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine “digital wallet” and is also seeking to “increase the distribution” of an international certificate for those who’ve been vaccinated.
Dr. Michael Ryan, an Irish epidemiologist who is head of the WHO health emergencies program dealing with COVID-19, made the remarks during a daily news briefing on July 12 in Geneva.
“We have encouraged countries that want to, they may use the international certificate for vaccination and prophylaxis … that requires other countries to recognize that certificate of vaccination,” Ryan said, adding that WHO is “working to increase the distribution of the paper versions of her international certificate of vaccination prophylaxis, and also developing a digital wallet that could be used for the same purpose.”
The organization, he said, will provide more “detailed data standards” for individual countries “to generate their own digital vaccination certificate, but that does not get around the policy issues around which vaccines are recognized within that system that that is essentially an international policy issue between countries.”
Ryan didn’t provide details about the digital wallet, which sparked concern and criticism on social media on July 12 about whether such an international vaccine passport-style system could be implemented by WHO for travel.
WHO officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Vaccine passports have been panned by civil liberties and human rights groups, who have said such centralized systems could violate individuals’ privacy. Some Republican lawmakers said passports would create a two-tier society, of unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals—with unvaccinated individuals being denied services or even their rights.
Among those critics include the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which wrote a blog post saying there is “a lot that can go wrong” with vaccine passports.
“It’s likely that such requests will become over-used as people get asked for credentials at every turn,” the group wrote in late March.
“While there are legitimate circumstances in which people can be asked for proof of vaccination, we don’t want to turn into a checkpoint society that outlasts the danger of COVID and that casually excludes people without credentials from facilities where vaccine mandates are not highly justified.”
Several Republican-led states have either passed laws or implemented executive orders barring the use of vaccine passports by local or state government offices, while places including Florida have implemented bans on private businesses from doing so.
Officials in the Biden administration said several months ago that they aren’t pushing for a federal vaccine passport mandate. Last week, however, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wouldn’t intervene if businesses use them.
“That’s not currently the role of the federal government,” Psaki told reporters. “There are a number of private sector entities, universities, institutions, that are starting to mandate, and that’s an innovative step that they will take and they should take. That’s not—and we’re not taking issue with that.”