The British government has been on the fence about whether or not to introduce COVID vaccination passports in the country. In February 2021, Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, announced that this concept had been ruled out, but the latest discussion that took place in the House of Commons took a different route.
Vaccine passports under consideration in the UK
During the Liaison Committee hearing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked if vaccination certificates were necessary to enter pubs. To which he replied:
That's the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans.
Johnson also mentioned that the possibility of implementing vaccination passports 'should not be totally alien to us,' given that doctors are already obligated to get vaccinated against hepatitis B. However, several ministers have warned him of the possible backlash he may face if they choose to push this protocol.
The final decision has yet to be taken, but there is another serious concern to be considered.
Fake vaccine certificates, passports and COVID negative results on the rise
According to the BBC, researchers have recently found an increased amount of sales in COVID passports, certificates and negative results on the Darknet. Among the services up for sale, counterfeit vaccines of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and Sinopharm are being also sold for prices starting from £360.
Researchers at Check Point, a cyber-security company, have been monitoring the situation since the first appearance of these products in January 2021, and they found that the number of advertisements on the Darknet have tripled in the past three months.
Oded Vanunu, head of product vulnerabilities research at Check Point, told BBC:
It's imperative for people to understand that attempting to obtain a vaccine, a vaccination card or negative Covid-19 test result by unofficial means is extremely risky, as hackers are more interested in your money, information and identity for exploitation.
In order to fight against counterfeit vaccines, fake passports and results, Check Point advises governments to start integrating a QR code system into their vaccine documentation to guarantee authenticity.