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Bill Gates: COVID vaccination passports could help open up our economy 'faster'

Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle and the Mayo Clinic are reportedly working on the development of a digital COVID vaccination passport.

Updated: January 27, 2021 - 5:58pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccination passports for international travel might help the U.S. and other economies around the world fully reopen at a "faster" pace. 

Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle and the Mayo Clinic are reportedly working on the development of a digital COVID vaccination passport.

The World Health Organization refers to this type of passport as an "immunity passport."

Gates was asked during an online forum whether he supports the idea of having COVID passports.

"Well, the goal is that if eventually travel does require some proof, that can be done in a way that's not fraudulent," he said during a Washington Post Live event. "Now you really want to be careful so people don't feel like, you know, this is some invasion of privacy. So, yes, having just paper cards doesn't create a very reliable system. 

"You want to do better than that," he added. "Since you know, when you spread this disease, you're talking about deaths and having to shut down economies."

Gates cited India as an example of digital advancements related to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Gates said digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination to travel would likely be better than a paper version. 

"Some way of — which India has probably done the best on — some way of having digital proof would let you say, 'OK, if to work in a nursing home, you need that proof, or if a country wants to see that proof to let you travel to an event,' that could help us open up faster by having the ability to trust those proofs," he said.