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Chile first country to issue immunity cards

Chile will be the first country to issue “immunity cards” to patients who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2.

Published: April 21, 2020, 8:51 am

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    US Billionaire Bill Gates has argued that proof of immunity would help individuals return to everyday life.

    An initiative using blockchain-based self-sovereign identity (SSI) tools are currently being used to create an “immunity passport”.  The Covid-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI) has also been working on a digital certificate, using the recently approved World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Verifiable Credentials standard. The “immunity passport” will give patients who have tested positive for antibodies or have received a vaccination, once one is available, the ability to move freely.

    Over 60 organizations in the SSI space are participating, such as Evernym, Streetcred, esatus, TNO, Georgetown University and others. The initiative is backed globally by Consulcesi in Italy, DIDx in South Africa, TrustNet in Pakistan and Northern Block in Canada.

    Digital certificates will be issued by health care institutions but controlled by the user and shared in a peer-to-peer manner. SSI removes the need for governments and other authorities, but trust in the issuer of the credential is critical, a spokesman for Evernym explained.

    Former Microsoft boss Gates asked for digital test certificates during a Reddit AMA last month: “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”

    In Chile, the certificate will be issued by the government however and allow the holder to return to work. But it is not yet certain whether patients who have recovered are really immune, or how long immunity lasts. Also, the accuracy of antibody tests have been questioned by some medical practitioners.

    The Chilean certificates will be issued from Monday. To qualify, Chileans have to be tested to show that they have developed antibodies for Covid-19, The New York Times reported. Those who have had the disease must be free of symptoms for at least 14 days, or 28, depending on whether they have a compromised immune system. Some 4000 people qualify.

    Chilean Health Minister, Jaime Mañalich, has warned that “the worst is yet to come,” with the number of novel Coronavirus cases expected to peak in May. In the southern hemisphere, winter and thus the flu season is approaching  which will likely strain Chile’s public health system.

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