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The way forward after COVID-19 vaccination: vaccine passports with blockchain to protect personal privacy
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  1. Kelvin K F Tsoi1,2,
  2. Joseph J Y Sung3,
  3. Helen W Y Lee1,
  4. Karen K L Yiu2,
  5. Hong Fung1,
  6. Samuel Y S Wong1
  1. 1JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong
  2. 2Stanley Ho Big Data Decision Analytics Research Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong
  3. 3Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kelvin K F Tsoi, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong; kelvintsoi{at}cuhk.edu.hk

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Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating in the world for over a year since 2019, resulting in over 80 million cases with almost 1.8 million deaths in 2020. The first vaccine that hit the global market is BNT162b2, given by Pfizer/BioNTech, which was approved in December 2020. Stepping into 2021, more COVID-19 vaccines are becoming accessible in the global market. Until February 2021, four vaccines have been approved for full use, while six more have been authorised for early or limited use in different countries around the world.

As vaccination programmes are gradually launched by various jurisdictions, post-trial surveillance with real-world evidence is of utter importance for close monitoring of their safety and effectiveness. This paper would introduce a vaccine passport concept implemented with blockchain technology. In the following, the methods of contact tracing and vaccine efficacy monitoring with intact personal privacy protection will be discussed.

Vaccination for COVID-19

As SARS-CoV-2 infection can be asymptomatic, transmission is hard to stop. Despite various containment policies enacted, such as city lockdown, mandatory masking and QR (quick response) code contact tracing, COVID-19 vaccine presents new hope, another ammunition rather, combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional vaccine development takes 10–15 years. With huge social and economic pressure, scientists around the world have been working on accelerated pace in vaccine development as authorised by government. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are developed at an unprecedented rate with various types. In the face of a global public health crisis, vaccine development has been accelerated. This is accredited to the investigation years for the former severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus vaccine, helping identify the coronavirus spike protein as the antigenic target.1

Governments worldwide are rolling out mass vaccination programmes accordingly, with 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered globally. A vaccine passport concept with data encryption, such as …

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