Will the Apple Wallet be the future for vaccine verified check-ins?

Contact tracing apps like MySejahtera are widely used in Malaysia right now. But as some people are already questioning how well the app works now that COVID-19 cases are rising at a fast pace, we need to look at more ways to keep us safe. And since vaccinations are well underway, what about when we would need to start showing vaccination proof during check-ins?

The COVID-19 vaccine has already started its distribution in the United States, and their vaccine recipients in Los Angeles County will be offered a digital record through a partnership with the startup Healthvana. The digital record will help ensure they get a second shot and could—eventually—be used to gain access to things like flights and events.

“It will also give recipients a way to verify they have been vaccinated, which they can put into an Apple Wallet or competing Google platform to prove to airlines, to prove to schools, to prove to whoever needs it,” said Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani.

Healthvana is a patient-engagement platform company based in Los Angeles and was founded in 2014. Their technology was used to deliver test results to patients for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections before they began working with the U.S. on COVID-19 test results.

However, there are concerns around granting a company access to protected health information. Healthvana even stores the data on Amazon Web Services, according to Bastani.

Nevertheless, director of vaccine preventable disease control at Los Angeles county’s Department of Public Health Claire Jarashow said that they have worked through Healthvana. Jarashow also mentioned that it is “as safe as we can make it”.

“Personally I would feel comfortable using it, so I hope that’s reassuring,” she continued.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. had administered at least 38,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The Healthvana digital record will grow increasingly important as the vaccine broadens to more people in the country. But Bastani also believes that it’s unlikely that the Healthvana record will become the standard.

“It’s not going to be like one credit card you can use across the U.S. Sometimes you can pay cash, sometimes you can use your Apple Wallet,” said Bastani.

If anything like the Healthvana digital vaccine record is implemented in Malaysia, it is very unlikely that the Apple Wallet will be the norm for keeping our records safe. In November 2020, Androids held a share of 75.66% of the mobile operating system market in Malaysia.

A more practical way to keep records in our country is to expand the use of MySejahtera as a keeper of our vaccination records. But it wouldn’t be a one-stop universal solution if we want to travel internationally. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce previously said it would be a “necessity” for future international travellers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines are trialling a new app which will speed up the verification process for COVID-19 test results and vaccination status. Their own digital health record will be first in the world to be based on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass framework.


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