Muscat: Bahrain has become one of the first countries in the world to launch a digital COVID vaccine passport.
The country's BeAware app enables individuals to show their immunity status two weeks after receiving both doses of the jab, when antibodies have started developing. The green 'COVID-19 Vaccinated' shield is accompanied by an official certificate detailing the users' name, date of birth, nationality and which vaccine they received. Authorities can verify its validity by scanning a QR code linking to the national vaccine register.
To access the digital certificate, users must have received two doses of the vaccine, with 21 days between each. They then must wait for two weeks after the second dose for antibodies to start developing. Other countries developing similar programmes include Denmark and Sweden, with both nations planning to launch the service in the coming weeks.
"The move comes as the International Monetary Fund released new figures projecting Bahrain’s economy will grow by 3.3% in 2021, driven by its quick policy response to minimise the impact of the pandemic. This has included rapid and widespread access to vaccinations and salary subsidies," a statement said.
The Kingdom – which is just 40 minutes’ drive away from Saudi Arabia via bridge – hit the headlines last month after opening free vaccine appointments to the entire nation, offering all citizens and residents a choice of jab. Users fill in their personal details and can select between Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Sputnik V.
The approach is different to other nations where only high-risk individuals can book appointments, or citizens are contacted by officials with pre-arranged times. In November, Bahrain officially approved a COVID vaccine for frontline health workers and quickly rolled it out to all citizens and residents over the age of 18.
The Kingdom has also made available a rapid testing service which can diagnose COVID-19 in 15 minutes without the need for a specialist laboratory. GCC nations took a series of precautionary measures against the outbreak, including mass population testing and the construction of field hospitals, resulting in praise from the World Health Organisation.
Public buses have been converted into mobile testing units and citizens summoned for tests at random, while early interventions included screenings at entry points and restrictions on travel from high-risk areas. All confirmed cases are quarantined and treated, with those unable to maintain social distancing at home accommodated in quarantine centres. In the UAE, police have deployed smart helmets capable of scanning temperatures of hundreds of people every minute.