FDA regulation of mobile health applications could help prevent vaccine passport fraud, says GlobalData

Within Canada and the US, the mobile health application market has grown exponentially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and more start-ups have been able to raise the cash needed to get off the ground. As a result, Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have both issued regulatory guidelines for applications and their developers, and this could help prevent vaccine passport fraud and ease concerns surrounding data privacy, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Alexandra Murdoch, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “While vaccine passports have already been implemented in several areas in the US and Canada, such as New York City, San Francisco, Quebec, British Columbia, and European countries such as Italy and France, there are concerns surrounding false vaccine documents and how this will be managed going forward. Additionally, there are concerns that mobile vaccine passports will not adequately protect patient information.”

The logistics of a vaccine passport can get complicated. For instance, proof of vaccination is different depending on where the patient goes to get it, and that can open the door for fraudulent certificates, with people already selling fake vaccine certificates online in Europe. Additionally, in Quebec, a computer programmer was able to create fake proof of vaccination certificates through an outside software and subsequently add it to Quebec’s vaccine passport application. As a result, officials will meet with the health minister to ensure the process of obtaining a vaccine passport is more difficult. If vaccine passports are implemented, there is a need for consistency, and a mobile health application could be the way to achieve it.

Murdoch adds: “The increasing use of mobile health applications can be extremely useful, especially during a pandemic. Mobile health applications help individuals see a healthcare professional from anywhere, including remote locations that may not have immediate access to other healthcare facilities. In addition, mobile health applications can reduce travel and time limitations. That being said, the applications must ensure some sense of security so users can feel safe sharing health information.”

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