South Korea to issue blockchain-protected digital Covid-19 'vaccine passports'

Around 877,000 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been administered in South Korea as at March 31, 2021.
Around 877,000 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been administered in South Korea as at March 31, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea said on Thursday (April 1) that it will issue so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports to immunised citizens, joining other nations introducing such certificates to revive cross-border travel while keeping infection risks under control.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said a mobile app, which will allow international travellers to show digital proof of vaccination, will be officially launched this month.

"The introduction of a vaccine passport, or 'Green Pass', will allow only those who have been vaccinated to experience the recovery to their daily lives," Mr Chung told a government meeting, adding that the app uses blockchain technology to prevent counterfeit.

The adoption of vaccine passports has proved controversial in many countries. While China and a few other countries have already introduced certificates and the European Union has bowed to pressure from tourism-dependent southern countries to do so, other countries have faced strong opposition to the concept.

South Korea on Thursday expanded its vaccine roll-out, starting vaccinations of members of the public who are aged 75 and above with the jab jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. More than 86 per cent of the 3.5 million people in that age group have said they plan to get the shot.

Around 877,000 first doses of the vaccine had been administered as at Wednesday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The KDCA reported 551 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the country's total infections to 103,639, with 1,735 deaths.