The Kingdom of Bahrain has become one of the first countries in the world to launch a digital COVID-19 “vaccine passport”.
According to a government press statement, the country’s BeAware app – which was launched at the onset of the pandemic to facilitate contact tracing, and currently also manages digital vaccine bookings – will function as the passport. The app will be able to confirm an individual’s immunity status via a green “COVID-19 Vaccinated” shield, accompanied by an official certificate with the account holder’s name, date of birth, nationality, and vaccine type selected.
Authorities are able to verify shield validity by scanning a QR code that links to the country’s national vaccine register. However, while the passport is recognised in the Kingdom, it is unclear whether it can be accepted as proof of vaccination when visiting other countries.
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THE LARGER CONTEXT
In order to obtain the shield and digital certificate, an individual must have received two doses of the vaccine, with 21 days in-between each dose. They then must wait for at least 14 days following the second dose for antibodies to begin developing.
Bahrain’s latest announcement comes just over a month since it became the first country in the world to allow vaccine appointment via mobile app. All citizens and residents are free to book at any time and choose one of four vaccines currently available: Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Sputnik V.
Earlier this week, the country’s National Medical Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19) announced new measures for travellers arriving in Bahrain. Starting 22 February, all travellers – who already take COVID-19 PCR tests on arrival – are required to undergo an additional test on the fifth day after arrival. Those staying in Bahrain for more than ten days are required to take a third PCR test on the tenth day of stay. Tests are to be booked via the BeAware app.
Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and member of the taskforce, highlighted the importance of remaining vigilant “in light of the prevalence of the highly contagious variant COVID-19 strain.”
He said that: “despite relentless contact tracing efforts, there has been a rise in active cases and it is a shared responsibility to ensure communities are safeguarded from the virus.”
ON THE RECORD
“COVID-19 measures are periodically reviewed in order to minimise risk and protect the community, and that the Kingdom remains committed to safeguarding the health and safety of all in the community,” stated Al Manea.