Is Maharashtra Paving The Way for COVID-19 Vaccination Passports?

Maharashtra government is using blockchain technology which is said to pave a way for COVID vaccination passports.

Tech News
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Covid vaccination passports are digital certificates which show proof of both vaccination and COVID-19 test results.</p></div>

The Maharashtra government is working on a blockchain technology which according to an industry source is a step towards COVID-19 vaccination passports – a digital certificate which shows proof of both vaccination and COVID-19 test results.

This move has come after the state successfully implemented four pilot e-governance projects based on blockchain technology.

Earlier in 2020, officials from Maharashtra said they will soon come out with ‘State Blockchain Policy’ that will provide direction to be the first blockchain powered-state in the country.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>New verification process of RT-PCR test through blockchain tech.&nbsp;Photo edited to hide sensitive information.</p></div>

New verification process of RT-PCR test through blockchain tech. Photo edited to hide sensitive information.

(Photo Courtesy: The Quint)

The state government is intimating citizens, who underwent RT-PCR test, about their results via SMS.

The SMS carries a link to the test report with a header 'This Document is Issued on Blockchain by Department of Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation, Gov. of Maharashtra', explained Sharat Chandra, Blockchain and Emerging Tech Evangelist while speaking with The Quint.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Verification of data through blockchain technology.</p></div>

Verification of data through blockchain technology.

(Photo Courtesy: The Quint)

Citizens can verify their test results by clicking on a tab labelled 'Verify'. Once 'Verify' tab is clicked, verification details display 'Verification Fetching Encrypted Hash from Blockchain'.

"There is an option to verify the public audit proof which has details about smart contract address and transaction details powered by Matic blockchain", added Chandra.

'RT-PCR Test Results Can't be Manipulated'

Multiple cases of people carrying fake RT-PCR test results to move across different cities have been reported across the country. This has contributed to the rise of COVID cases.

Blockchain technology refers to how the data is stored in 'blocks of information' and then is linked together in a permanent chain. When a new block is added to the previous chain, it makes the previous blocks even harder to modify, which helps each block become more and more secure over time.

"With blockchain, RT-PCR test results cannot be manipulated. Since these certificates come with an expiry date, no one can use these results over and over again."
Sharat Chandra, Blockchain and Emerging Tech Evangelist

Maha Paving Way for COVID Passport

The 'vaccine passport' is a term coined by the European Commission. It is a digital certificate which shows proof of both vaccination and COVID-19 test results.

In the United States, New York has started using the same technology and issued vaccination passports called 'Excelsior pass' which allows citizens to access public spaces, exhibition centres, and community parks.

Meanwhile, Estonia is also using blockchain based digital passports for its immunised citizens . Vaccine or Immunity passports have a significant role to play in opening up the economy and return of the workforce.

Chandra believes that the government of Maharashtra is exploring vaccine passports for citizens of Mumbai using blockchain technology. "As a financial hub, calibrated re-opening of the maximum city with help of vaccine passports will go a long way in propelling the economic engine of the country," he added.

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