Monday, October 25

A free vaccination passport with a QR code, what does it mean in practice?


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Europe today launched the proposal for a new vaccination passport to facilitate mobility in Europe. Though It remains to be seen how this proposal will be adapted in each member country. of the Union, it is a star measure that raises unknowns and controversies from an ethical point of view, but also about details when it finally starts to be used. We solve some of the questions that are already sneaking into social networks.

Is free? What does it consist of?

Yes. The certificate It will be issued free of charge and will have a QR code with basic medical information of the patient about their situation regarding the coronavirus and that can be presented to the authorities in physical or digital format. The will of Brussels is that this document benefits both those who have been vaccinated and those who have antibodies or a recent negative test. The data will appear in the official language of the country and in English.

Who issues it?

Although it has the authorization of the European Union, it will be issued by the health authorities of the member countries. Specifically, in Spain it is likely to be issued by the autonomous communities since they are the ones that have the medical history of the citizens.

Can I fake it?

No. Both in its physical and digital format, it will have a QR code that will allow “verification of the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate”, making your copy very difficult. From the National Institute of Cybersecurity (Incibe) they point out that the QR is considered an evolution of the traditional barcode.

“In principle, a digitally signed QR code is quite safe and difficult to break,” the independent computer scientist Jorge J. Ramos explains to this newspaper.

“Normally these codes are signed at the source and the copy to use them remains on the server of the person who makes them available to the user,” says Ramos. This implies that even if a user tried to falsify his code, when reading it, the system would realize that it does not match the information it has stored. “It is very difficult to forge a key if we do not have access to the lock,” the expert points out.

Where do you allow me to travel?

The passport will allow you to move around the European Economic Area. That is, it will be valid for traveling through the 26 Member States of the EU and by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

On the other hand, Brussels has confirmed that there is a mechanism planned with Switzerland and that those who have a visa to enter the EU and have received one of the vaccines approved by the EMA will have a certificate.

However, as the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto has advanced, there is a interest by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to have common protocols that favor mobility outside the European Union with countries in Latin America and Asia or the USA.

Am I required to quarantine? What does having it exempt me from?

Depends. Although the will of the EU is that the passport exempts the citizen from being quarantined or carrying out a PCR, everything will depend on the decision made by each country. Member States may choose to maintain the same restrictions for those traveling with and without a certificate, but they will have to notify both the Commission and the rest of the partners of their decision and explain why those who have a certificate are not exempted from quarantine or testing. with this document.

When does it come into force?

The President of the European Commission has confirmed on several occasions that they will be needed at least three months to set up all the procedures that will allow the entry into force of this document, from the day of its approval.

If everything goes according to plan, the vaccination passport is expected be ready for early summer, as requested by several southern countries, among which stand out Spain, Italy or Greece.

Are all vaccines useful to obtain it?

No. Only if the person has been vaccinated with any of the drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA): Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. Those who, for example, have traveled to countries such as the United Arab Emirates – where vaccines such as the Chinese Sinopharm or the Russian Sputnik V are administered – will not be able to validate their Covid passport as these drugs are not authorized in Europe.

But there is an exception. The only European countries where, for now, Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines are authorized are Hungary and Slovakia and they too will be issued passports. It should be remembered that Europe has already started the review process of the Russian drug, so that in a matter of weeks it could receive the final green light from the EMA.

What happens if I cannot get vaccinated due to health problems?

The passport will not only incorporate vaccination data, but it is expected that it will register if the person has had the disease and has antibodies against the coronavirus or if they have undergone a recent medical test that proves that they are free of Covid.

Can they sanction me?

The European Union has insisted that it does not want this certificate to become a second passport and that Europe will not impose a sanctioning regime, which will have to be developed by each of the Member States. However, like the Spanish who tries to travel with a false ID, those who present a non-original Covid passport could be exposed to sentences of between three to six months for making use of a false official document, as stated in article 399 of the Penal Code.

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