The Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) signed two new contracts with technology companies for work on the government’s vaccination passport program, is can reveal.
This brings the total government spending on the UK’s Covid certification program to almost £ 23.6million, despite some MPs claiming a mandatory passport jab scheme has just been raised as a tactic to increase costs. vaccination rate.
Yesterday, the NHS app was upgraded to allow it to be used as a nationwide Covid vaccine passport in England, with a message that read: ‘You may need to show your NHS Covid Pass in places that have chosen to use the service ”.
Documents released Wednesday show that Entrust, a US-based IT company, is expected to receive nearly £ 840,000 from the government to help produce Covid digital certificates through the NHS app.
The contract is expected to last until July next year, but will likely be renewed until mid-2023, with the price of a two-year contract already detailed in official documents.
Entrust was awarded £ 250,000 earlier this year as part of a separate government deal for its work on the UK’s vaccine passport program.
The contract drew fierce criticism from lawmakers and civil liberties groups after is revealed that Entrust had boasted of being able to “redeploy” vaccine passports into a national identification system.
The company also hosted a webinar in January on how vaccine passports would enable governments to “collect valuable data” on citizens.
John Bejjani, Senior Product Manager, said: “You will understand why it’s not just for travel, you can take it and reuse it to do things like ID cards and national permits.
“Deploying something like a mobile travel identifier also allows governments to collect valuable data… It also doesn’t hurt that this information can be used to identify criminals and other malicious actors as they travel around. the same system trying to hide anonymously in the crowd. “
A blog post posted in May on Entrust’s website also offered companies advice on how to get a contract with the government. He said the company allows employees to expense “gifts, meals and nominal travel,” but meals with government officials are subject to price caps.
DHSC also this week signed a second vaccine passport contract worth up to £ 873,000 with IT company Akamai Technologies. The deal is also expected to last for a year, although it can be extended until July 2023.
The deal marks the second vaccine passport deal for the U.S. tech company, after the company received £ 50,000 from the government in May to help add the Covid certification feature to the NHS app.
It comes after the prime minister announced a major policy change last week as he unveiled plans to make vaccine passports mandatory for entry to nightclubs from September.
Boris Johnson is reportedly concerned about low vaccination rates among younger groups. He suggested at a meeting earlier this week that ministers should make Covid jabs mandatory for college students attending conferences and halls of residence.
However, some MPs have claimed the government is only brandishing the threat of mandatory Covid certification as a tactic to encourage vaccine uptake.
Dominic Raab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that vaccine passports are a form of “coaxing and coaxing” young people to get vaccinated.
“I was talking about it to show that what you can really do in some areas, if you are careful, is to encourage the use of vaccination,” he told BBC Radio 4. Today programme.
Mr Raab noted that similar threats made by French President Emmanuel Macron had proven to be an effective tactic to increase vaccination rates.