The NHS app is set to be converted into a digital Covid-19 health certificate to provide proof of vaccination or test results, according to The Times.

This news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his four-step plan to ease lockdown measures in England, which included the suggested use of vaccine passports.

The notion of vaccine passports or digital health certificates has proved controversial due to ethical and moral implications, with Johnson making it clear that “there are deep and complex issues that we need to explore” during a school visit on Tuesday.

He added that “we can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine”, and that there will be both “fervent libertarians [that] will object” to the certification system and “other people [that] will think there’s a case for it”.

The government’s response to vaccine passports has changed over the past few months since it initially dismissed the technology, branding the certificates as “discriminatory”. More recently, the UK government has entered into discussions with other countries and IATA regarding the use of such digital health passports.

Johnson also commented on the use of such certificates at an international level, stating:

“When you look at the international side of things, international travel, there’s no question that that’s where a lot of countries will be going and they will be insisting on vaccine passports, in the way that people used to insist on evidence you’d been inoculated against yellow fever or whatever, so it’s going to come on the international stage, whatever.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will lead a review into Covid status certificates and their potential use by hospitality and events venues. The UK government is also currently considering whether to ban businesses on making access to certain services conditional on proof of vaccination.

According to The Times, the NHS contact tracing app “is considered unsuitable because its design favours privacy” while the standard NHS appointment booking app “would be relatively straightforward to use”.

The Guardian also reported that “sources have suggested ministers have stressed the importance of testing and vaccine being combined” in order to avoid discriminating against people who have not been vaccinated.

Several companies and international bodies have put forward a variety of technological solutions to document and verify travellers’ health status in light of Covid-19 – for our guide to the different initiatives see:

And for our feature on the pros and cons of vaccine or so called “freedom” passports, see: