Covid in Scotland: Digital vaccine certificates 'not near yet'

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All four UK countries are discussing a joint digital system of vaccine certification

A digital system to allow people in Scotland to prove their Covid vaccination status is being worked on, public health officials have said.

The scheme would mean Scotland was "ready to join" an international vaccination passport programme.

National clinical director Prof Jason Leitch said paper "proof" - similar to that given to people in England - was "not a satisfactory solution".

But he said compiling the information was complex and "we're not near yet".

Prof Leitch confirmed that all four UK countries were discussing the joint digital system.

The medical professional outlined plans for the portal system during a Covid technical briefing.

He said the NHS was looking at "data linkages" between delivery of blue envelope appointment letters and vaccine uptake.

It would then provide a digital record of whether people;

  • have been vaccinated
  • recently tested negative
  • or have natural immunity after being ill with Covid.

The professor explained: "We need to make that accessible. That information exists, it's just a question of the form it should take."

Exempt from ban

It comes as EU officials are considering whether countries with a strong jabs rollout could be exempt from its blanket ban on entry.

It has been suggested UK tourists with vaccine certification could be allowed entry as early as June.

The UK government had previously confirmed it was looking at how to allow people to more easily show their Covid status, as "a temporary measure".

Prof Jason Leitch said, for now, Scotland's position on passports and travel "remains the same" and no international travel for non-essential reasons is allowed before 17 May - and possibly for some time after that.

"The clinical advice is that travel remains a significant risk - you could argue our most significant risk with exporting and importing cases," he said.

"Scotland is developing, at a four-country level, conversations around a digital solution and what that might look like.

"So I think the end game here will be some kind of international Covid certification."

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said "we shouldn't close our minds" to the idea of vaccine certification.

Speaking at a Covid briefing on 6 April, Ms Sturgeon said: "We all want to get back to normal, so anything that can play a part in getting us back to normal is something we should think about very carefully.

"But nor should we gloss over the practical and ethical issues."

European officials have announced plans for an EU-wide "Green Digital Certificate".

This would allow anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel within the region.

Officials hope the certificate will be in place before the summer tourist season.

Individual countries have also announced plans, including:

  • Cyprus says Britons who have had two jabs can visit from 1 May, without needing a negative test or to quarantine
  • Greece will admit Covid-negative Israeli tourists using its "green" digital vaccine certificate
  • Denmark and Sweden are developing vaccine passports