Get ready for immunity passports…
Last Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the federal government is considering immunity passports for people who have recovered from COVID-19.
These are certificates that confirm an individual has tested positive for the COVID-19 antibodies, making that person immune and offering “proof” that they cannot contract and spread the virus. In other words, those who are immune are safe to go about their business as normal.
And as it turns out, the U.S. government has been in talks with early stage artificial intelligence (AI) company Onfido to make immunity passports a reality. Here’s how it will work if this moves forward…
Onfido will maintain a database for immunity records. Through a smartphone app, Onfido will use AI to scan and analyze identification documents – drivers’ licenses, passports, and national ID cards. The AI will confirm that the documents are not counterfeit.
Then, using the smartphone’s camera, Onfido will use facial recognition to verify that the individual submitting the documents is the same person. That’s how the COVID-19 test results will be tied to the person’s identity.
At that point, Onfido will provide a digital certificate that will serve as the immunity passport. That way people can prove they are immune to COVID-19 just by pulling up the Onfido app on their smartphones.
No doubt this is going to be a polarizing issue.
On the one hand, being able to prove immunity will be important for health care workers. Patients will want to know that their doctors and nurses aren’t infected with the virus.
And health care workers would like to know if the patient is immune as well. Plus, health care workers who are immune will not need to use full personal protective gear.
And when we get back to having large gatherings again, venues will want to be sure that their event is not going to cause a COVID-19 outbreak. The only way to do that is to verify attendees’ immunity passports. Many attendees will want this also.
On the other hand, this raises serious privacy concerns. Medical records are among our most sensitive data. We normally keep these issues to ourselves.
And while we’re just talking about COVID-19 right now, there’s no question this would eventually lead to storing the records of all our vaccines and immunizations in our immunity passport app.
Imagine if we go to board our plane for an important business trip or vacation but are turned away at the gate. Your immunity passport raised a red flag.
Or perhaps we’re suddenly turned down for our next job after receiving a verbal offer. “Sorry, your immunity passport wasn’t up to the company’s expectations. You are ‘at risk.’”
It makes tremendous sense to test health care professionals, but this is a slippery slope when applied to an entire population.