Certificates For The Covid-19 Vaccine: The Digitalization Of Fraud
The pandemic response has repeatedly focused on digital technologies. It is frequently suggested as a way to reduce fraud in the certification process for vaccines. The concerns of excessive reliance on these technologies are raised by the development of cybercrime. It could provide criminals access to the Covid vaccination certification market. Although it is harder to fake vaccination certificates when QR codes have digital signatures, they are not completely infallible.
No global certification standard:
Paper-based certifications are prone to be changed and forged. The constraints of paper-based certificates could be overcome by creating and implementing digital immunisation certificates globally. Enabling nations to reopen in a more secure manner. To create a smart vaccine certificate and a worldwide trust framework for cross-country validation. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) consequently put together a working group. As Covid Certificate Verification has become a need of time.
These ideas were abandoned (at least temporarily) and “guide documents” took their place, with the global trust framework. These guideline texts don’t advocate for a universal standard; instead, they leave it to bilateral and regional agreements to create cross-border trust and “trust frameworks.”
Fraud and Covid-19 certifications:
Travel authorization documents issued under Covid-19 are susceptible to deception. The inconsistent and frequent changes in national legislation have made it challenging for border systems to check certificates and made it simple for phoney certificates to spread.
The opportunity was noticed by the underground market for counterfeit Covid-19 vaccinations and certificates, and it was seized. Travellers have had fake negative Covid-19 test certificates discovered on them at international airports in Dubai and the UK. At border checkpoints, two men in Zimbabwe were detained for selling travellers fraudulent negative Covid-19 test results. So, similar incidents have also been reported along the South Africa-Mozambique border.
In South and Central America, Covid-19 test forgery rings have been discovered and dismantled, raising suspicions that organised crime may be producing, disseminating, and certifying Covid-19-related goods and vaccinations.
Human rights, certificates, and extortion:
The argument made against Covid-19 certification is that it will exacerbate global injustices and violate the rights of the most disadvantaged members of society.
For instance, in Russia, vaccination certification has been formally linked to access to healthcare services. Fraudulent certificates flooded the illegal market as demand soared, giving organised crime a field day.
Fake negative PCR tests are marketed at numerous border crossings in Central America, taking advantage of the desperation of migrants running from abuse and injustice.
The spike in demand for vaccination certificates presents dishonest border officials with another opportunity to make money. For instance, the pandemic and associated certifications have provided an opportunity for dishonest border officials to raise the “price” asked of migrants at the borders of Central America. As border crossings are not taken into account in pandemic anti-corruption monitoring, national pandemic responses have mainly ignored the corruption that migrants experience and the health issues they face.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate is a digital reaction against fraud:
Digital tools are being used to reduce fraud and guarantee secure travel. The first international vaccine verification system for the general population, the EU Digital Covid Certificate, sets the bar. To prevent falsification, the certificate has a digital signature and QR code. These can be displayed on paper or on a mobile device. To enable safe free movement inside the EU bloc, the certificate serves as a digitalized verification that a person has either been immunised, obtained a negative test result, or recovered from Covid-19.
Due to the fact that a QR code merely verifies if a person has completed one or more stages without disclosing the specifics, this information is kept private from border officials.
Digitalization is merely one aspect of the solution:
Therefore, the digitalization of Covid-19 certificates is not a cure-all for fraud and forgery. If the certificate ignores the inherent corruption risks of its paper twin and the human actors who produce or are in charge of verification, it offers little to reduce fraud and misuse.
So, take the digitalization of the “yellow card” in Africa as an example. An e-yellow card was developed in Nigeria with the intention of reducing or eliminating fraud. The Lancet and members of a group of young Nigerians visiting Ghana swiftly pointed out, however, that “fraud-safe” does not always equate to “digitalization,” since both were able to receive the certificate without providing proof of immunisation.
Solution for reducing fraud in Covid-19 vaccination certification:
The use of blockchain technology provides protections from tampering and falsification. To stop yellow card fraud, a blockchain-based QR code was created in Zimbabwe. It has produced encouraging results, and discussions are already taking place about how to expand it to incorporate Covid-19 test certificates.
As a result, blockchain technology is founded on the principles of cryptography, decentralisation, and consensus. So, it may offer a more secure solution for Covid-19 vaccine certificates and make document verification safer. It will take some time before the benefits of blockchain and digital technology are recognised in the reduction of fraud. Nevertheless, due to different countries’ varying access to these technologies
E-passports: enhancing what is already in place:
E-passports have a variety of benefits, including the fact that they are already “out there,” in users’ hands, and used frequently; that they are already a requirement for travel and identification; and that they are constantly updated to be more secure and fraud-resistant. Building on what already exists will be a more resource-efficient, secure, and inclusive method for digital technologies to play a part in reopening our societies in the short term. Moreover, despite the fact that it is far from a flawless answer.