Are corona passports really the magic bullet Ministers hope they'll be?

Normality was – frustratingly – within reach. 

For months, infection rates fell and the pandemic seemed to be behind us. 

But just weeks after millions of children returned to classrooms, and offices around the country began to fill up again, we're now slipping backwards.

Corona cases are said to be doubling every week, hospital admissions are creeping up, and on Friday the mothballed Nightingale hospitals – designed to handle the tsunami of cases that never quite materialised in April – were put back on standby.

And with experts warning last week it was 'impossible' to say when a vaccine would be ready, it seems ever more likely that we're set for a Christmas like no other – for all the wrong reasons. 

Except, according to a small army of British tech companies, there is another way.

British tech companies say the solution to rising Covid-19 cases lies in a simple-to-use smartphone app that will prove our 'Covid status' – whether we have the virus or not. Pictured: File image

British tech companies say the solution to rising Covid-19 cases lies in a simple-to-use smartphone app that will prove our 'Covid status' – whether we have the virus or not. Pictured: File image

They say the solution lies in a simple-to-use smartphone app that will prove our 'Covid status' – whether we have the virus or not. 

This, it is claimed, would help unlock society as we used to know it, allowing safe entry to pubs, restaurants, sports stadiums and even flights. If, of course, your result is negative.

As the CEO of one UK company said: 'We need ID to get into buildings, so why not for health data?'

The gist is this: if such a system is rolled out, establishments can 'opt in' and require individuals to have a test prior to visiting – either via the Government testing programme, or a private one provided by the app company. 

'Some firms claim they would be able to offer 20 million test results per month, with results given in just 15 minutes per test – so no need to put excess pressure on the NHS Test and Trace system.

Once results are in, they're entered into a national database. This then syncs with the smartphone app, resulting in a colour-coded score card, displayed on an individual's phone. Green indicates a negative result while red spells positive.

Amber means you're 'overdue' for a test. In theory the system would lead to guaranteed Covid-free environments.

This, it is claimed, would help unlock society as we used to know it, allowing safe entry to pubs, restaurants, sports stadiums and even flights. If, of course, your result is negative. Pictured: File image

This, it is claimed, would help unlock society as we used to know it, allowing safe entry to pubs, restaurants, sports stadiums and even flights. If, of course, your result is negative. Pictured: File image

Holidays abroad, weddings with hundreds of guests and sell-out concerts would no longer be off the table. These so-called 'health passports' are already big business, with a number of tech firms already jostling for control of the market.

There are even signs that the UK Government might be interested. 

Back in April, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers were 'looking at' a similar concept, which he dubbed 'immunity passports', as a means of 'returning to normal life'.

More recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson too has mentioned that identifying those who are negative could be key to helping millions resume normal life.

And just last week a prototype of the 'VHealth Passport' was pitched to No 10, as a way in which sports stadiums could safely open.

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