‘Covid green card’ opens the way through the pandemic

The Covid-19 passport model, which has been applied by Denmark for the past half year, has helped the country to both reopen and successfully control the epidemic.

Denmark is expected to lift all measures to prevent Covid-19 from September 10, when Covid-19 is determined by the country to be “no longer a social threat” thanks to the large scale of vaccination. About 75.5% of the country’s population is vaccinated with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 72.8% is fully protected with two doses of the vaccine.

With the plan to lift all restrictions, Denmark will no longer be able to ban people from gathering or make masks mandatory, but the government will still retain the legal corridor that allows officials to test and collect, medical data sharing. This means that this Scandinavian country will officially overcome Covid-19 and reopen from tomorrow.

However, the process of living with Covid-19 has been started by Denmark since April, thanks to the Coronapass “passenger card” model. This is one of the first countries in Europe to apply a digitized Covid-19 passport, which people can download to their smartphones.

Denmark hopes this will be an important tool to help them pave the way to overcome the pandemic and reopen the economy after months of blockade.

A Dane uses the Coronapass feature in his personal health information app to visit a beer bar in May. Photo: AFP.

A Dane uses the Coronapass feature in his personal health information app to visit a beer bar in May. Photo: AFP

Coronapass stores and displays information that shows that the user has received the vaccine, or recovered from Covid-19 in the past two to 12 weeks, or tested negative for nCoV within the previous 72 hours. If there is a need, Danes can also print this passport on paper.

Coronapass was initially integrated into the MinSundhed public health app, which is linked to the Danish citizen identification system. Every Danish citizen has a unique identification number, called a CPR, and a medical card containing the code to access all health information.

Every time testing at a state-managed sampling point, users will be scanned a code to store information. If people choose to test at a private facility, the sampling unit needs to record the CPR attempt or scan the identification code, and then send a message to the user’s personal phone number to notify the test results.

People in Denmark need to present a Coronapass in order to dine at a restaurant, go to a football field, use certain services or participate in activities with a high risk of infection due to large gatherings. Children are privileged not to need a Covid-19 passport.

The State Serum Institute (SSI), the infectious disease agency of the Danish government, reports more than 9,000 cases of Covid-19 vaccination but still positive for the virus in the past 9 months, out of about 4 .2 million people have been vaccinated with enough vaccines nationwide. This data makes Danish health officials confident that nCoV is no longer a “threat to society”, although they still consider Covid-19 to be a disease “dangerous to public health”.

One of the important conditions for the Covid-19 passport is the rate of testing across the population, especially if this tool is applied in the period when the country is gradually increasing vaccine coverage. Denmark has one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world. People in this country are encouraged to go to free testing sites once or twice a week.

“Denmark has about 5.8 million people and we can test more than half a million people every day,” said Kirstine Vestergaard Nielsen, deputy director of Copenhagen’s Emergency Health Service.

The Covid-19 passport model has also received significant political support. In Denmark, 9 out of 10 parties and the Danish Industry Association (CDI) have supported the implementation of this model from the first half of 2021.

CDI CEO Lars Sandahl Soerensen called Coronapass “an extraordinary tool for the extraordinary”. At the time Coronapass was implemented, an opinion survey showed that about 67% of Danes were in favor of the solution, while the rate of opposition was 16%.

“The remaining option is to continue to close. The passport model is the way for us to effectively overcome the crisis for this time,” Soerensen emphasized.

A Covid-19 test site in Frederikshavn, Denmark in November 2020.  Photo: Reuters.

A Covid-19 test site in Frederikshavn, Denmark in November 2020. Photo: Reuters

According to Professor Michael Bang Petersen, an important factor for Coronapass’s acceptance is that Danes are not afraid of their personal information being misused. National public opinion is more concerned with the practicality of the model than the moral controversy, plus the belief in the government and the nation’s community spirit culture.

“Anyone can get a pass. This tool is seen as a solution for people to both protect each other and return to normal life,” said Petersen.

From the pioneering work in Denmark, the Covid-19 passport model is being applied in many other countries such as the UK and some members of the European Union (EU), or in some localities in Canada and the US. use.

The Canadian state of British Columbia is expected to start operating an electronic “Vaccine Card” system from September 13 for people who have had at least one vaccination. People with vaccination certificates will be allowed to enter restaurants, cinemas, sports centers and other non-essential businesses and services.

From October 24, the British Columbia government will tighten the “Vaccine Card” regulation and only allow people with a certificate of two shots to use non-essential services. The plan is expected to last until January 31, 2022 and is likely to be extended.

According to experts, the appearance of the Delta variant makes the Covid-19 passport model even more practical. The prospect of a prolonged pandemic due to new strains makes the “No Covid-19” strategy considered increasingly unsustainable and requires alternative measures to both ensure safety and partially restore circulation. , especially travel by air.

“Vaccine passports are increasingly practical and seem to be the way back to normal. The more this measure is discussed and applied, the more people want to get vaccinated, thereby energizing the goal. to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said Alex Miller, CEO of Upgraded Points, a company promoting airline services.

Trung Nhan (Follow BBC/CNBC/Local/Euro News)

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