20 Jan 2021

MedTech Wednesday: latest developments in Covid-19 vaccination passports

MedTech Wednesday is our regular check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful healthcare innovation and health technology news and trends.

This week, major tech publications and national newspapers are both covering the latest news developments around a ‘digital Covid-19 vaccine passport’, with numerous ethical and digital privacy considerations being aired. Elsewhere, a new artificial intelligence (AI) database is helping to improve coronavirus care, and Barnsley hospital becomes the first in the UK to adopt a new device to combat the biggest cause of maternal death in the UK – deep vein thrombosis (DVT). 


Covid-19 vaccination passport developments

Diginomica reports this week that numerous tech and health organisations are coming together to develop and create a ‘digital Covid-19 vaccine passport’.

The ultimate aim is for users to be able to present accurate and up-to-date Covid-19 vaccination records easily via a digital wallet, although there are a whole host of ethical and data privacy considerations that need to be taken into consideration.

“A consortium of technology and health organisations – including Oracle and Salesforce – have come together to work on developing a standard model for organisations administering COVID-19 vaccines to make the immunisation data available in an accessible, interoperable, digital format,” the report reads.

“Simply put, the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) is working on creating digital immunisation passports, for those that have received one of the COVID-19 vaccines. That being said, the alliance has also said that those without a smartphone could receive paper printed versions with QR codes as an alternative.”

Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation, said of the initiative: “The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy.

“Open standards and interoperability are at the heart of VCI’s efforts and we look forward to supporting the World Health Organization and other global stakeholders in implementing and scaling open global standards for health data interoperability.”

The Guardian was quick to respond to the news, with a valuable and in-depth piece entitled Vaccine passports: what are they and do they pose a danger to privacy?

And The Times ran its own piece on the story, entitled “Covid passports – a freedom certificate that may get the world travelling again”. And followed up with a piece on the legal implications for employers, entitled, “Coronavirus vaccine passports will leave bosses on shaky legal ground”.


New AI database to improve coronavirus care 

A new artificial intelligence (AI) database is helping to improve coronavirus care, reports Health Business this week.

“NHSX has brought together over 40,000 CT scans, MRIs and X-rays from more than 10,000 patients across the UK during the course of the pandemic,” notes the report.

“Access to this National Covid-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) has now been extended to hospitals and universities across the country who are using the images to track patterns and markers of illness.

“The database can speed up diagnosis of coronavirus, leading to a quick treatment plan and greater understanding of whether the patient may end up in a critical condition.”


A UK first for Barnsley hospital

Finally this week, a UK first for Barnsley hospital, that becomes the first in the country to adopt a new medical device to help expectant mothers combat deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is still the biggest cause of maternal death in the UK.

“Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is the first maternity unit in the UK to use an innovative electrostimulation device, the geko, to reduce the risk of blood clots in high-risk patients during pregnancy,” reports Building Better Healthcare.

“Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) represents the biggest cause of maternal death in the UK, with patients more likely to develop a blood clot during pregnancy and after delivery than at any other point in their lives.

“To address this, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust carried out a pilot observational study to determine whether neuromuscular electrostimulation device, the geko, could be suitable for blood clot prevention in high-risk pregnant patients for whom the current standard of care is not suitable. The device is a small watch-sized technology which sticks to the leg and increases blood flow, via painless electrical pulses, at a rate equal to 62% of walking, without a patient having to move.”